Focus Technologies Offers First Commercial Laboratory Test for SARS


HERNDON, Va. -- Focus Technologies announces it has developed a first-generation real-time PCR test designed to detect the presence of the coronavirus associated with the development of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in patients.

Since its identification in February, SARS has affected more than 5,300 patients worldwide and resulted in more than 355 deaths. The company's reference laboratory in Cypress, Calif. has begun performing SARS-associated coronavirus testing to help clinicians diagnose disease in suspected patients. The detection of the genomic RNA from the coronavirus associated with SARS is based upon reverse transcription of specific viral genomic RNA sequences followed by PCR amplification. This methodology was developed by the Bernhard-Nocht Institute (Hamburg, Germany) and described by the World Health Organization. Focus Technologies also offers viral culture test methods capable of growing the SARS coronavirus as well as other viral respiratory pathogens. In addition to SARS, Focus offers one of the most complete portfolios of laboratory tests used to diagnose respiratory disease agents.

"Focus is proud of its ability to develop new assays quickly. We continue to be an innovator in addressing emerging infectious diseases," said Charles C. Harwood, Jr., CEO and president of Focus Technologies. "Our accomplishment would not have been possible without the collaboration of the Bernhard-Nocht Institute, which along with the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided leadership in responding to this serious and growing health threat."

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a respiratory illness that has been reported in more than 25 countries including the United States and Canada. According to the CDC, the primary way that SARS appears to spread is by close person-to-person contact or from direct contact with infectious material from a person who has SARS. Scientists at the CDC and other laboratories have detected infection by a coronavirus in patients with SARS. Sequencing of the virus genome by the CDC has confirmed that this infectious agent is a previously unrecognized strain of the virus.

A positive RT-PCR result should be interpreted in combination with a patient's clinical presentation along with other diagnostic test results prior to establishing a diagnosis. A negative PCR result indicates only the absence of SARS-associated coronavirus RNA in the sample tested and does not exclude the diagnosis of disease.

Source: Focus Technologies

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