Response Biomedical Introduces RAMP Environmental Test For West Nile Virus

VANCOUVER -- Response Biomedical Corp. announces the market-ready RAMP West Nile Virus Test, a high sensitivity rapid on-site environmental test capable of detecting low levels of the virus in mosquitoes and crows which contribute to the spread of West Nile virus (WNV).

"Without effective vaccines or treatments, there is an urgent public health need for rapid and reliable detection of West Nile virus over the coming months to track the progression, identify hot spots, and enable strategic intervention through chemical extermination of infected insects and animals," says Bill Radvak, president and CEO. "Based on a recent evaluation using infected mosquitoes, crows and live West Nile virus, our first RAMP test for infectious diseases demonstrated a significant increase in sensitivity over other rapid on-site tests and performed well in relation to PCR-based analyzers when used to detect virus in mosquitoes and birds."

The RAMP West Nile Virus Test was developed and evaluated in consultation with leading scientists at Health Canada's National Microbiology Lab.

"I'd like to acknowledge Health Canada for its ongoing support as we explore additional development opportunities for rapid and reliable infectious disease tests on the RAMP platform," adds Radvak. "Although we have very modest revenue expectations this summer season, we are pleased to offer government organizations a vital new tool in their critical efforts to monitor the spread of West Nile virus and reduce the rate of human transmission."

WNV is a flavivirus that can infect humans, birds, mosquitoes, horses and some other mammals. Although commonly found in Africa, West Asia, and the Middle East, there were no documented cases in the Western Hemisphere prior to 1999. From 1999 through 2001, there were 149 confirmed cases of WNV human illness in the US, including 18 deaths. Last year, WNV resulted in 4,156 human illnesses and 284 deaths in North America alone. According to the CDC, the virus is permanently established. West Nile is an infectious disease that can jump species, and the virus has already spread to 230 species of animals.

There are no drugs to treat the virus and no vaccines available to prevent infection. Although many infected people suffer only minor symptoms, the most serious manifestations of WNV infection is fatal encephalitis characterized by inflammation of the brain, or meningitis involving inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

Response Biomedical develops and manufactures rapid on-site RAMP tests for clinical and biodefense applications providing reliable information in minutes, when and where it is needed. The RAMP System consists of a portable fluorescent reader and single-use, disposable test cartridges. RAMP tests are commercially available for the early detection of heart attack, and biodefense applications including the rapid on-site detection of anthrax, smallpox, monkeypox, ricin and botulinum toxin.

RAMP Systems have been sold in Canada, the U.S., Japan, Italy, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates. Customers include UN biological weapons inspectors, the U.S. Air Force and Health Canada.

Source: Response Biomedical Corp.