QIAGEN to Supply Molecular Screening Solutions to Increase Safety of Blood Donations in Brazil
News May 29, 2009
QIAGEN has announced that it has entered into an agreement to supply molecular sample and assay technologies for a new national, PCR-based blood screening program for HIV and Hepatitis C (HCV) in Brazil. QIAGEN will provide Bio-Manguinhos, the main provider of vaccines and diagnostics to the Brazilian Ministry of Health, with a significant volume of molecular testing solutions - sample and assay technologies, related instrumentation, operational know-how and training. Following the approval by the Brazilian patent authorities, the agreement will run for five years and contains options for subsequent extensions.
Brazil's new national screening program is scheduled to start in 2010. It marks the largest initiative in the country's history of blood donations safety. Every year, five million blood donations are performed in Brazil (with a population of 190 million South America's largest country), of which 70% are conducted by public blood banks.
The new program marks the effort to complement these traditional, immunodiagnostic tests with nucleic-acid-based, molecular assays that are considered sensitive in detecting infection. They help close the "diagnostic window" between the time of an infection and laboratory diagnosis by enabling faster treatment and reducing the ability of an infection to spread - thereby further increasing the safety of the blood supply.
"Nucleic-acid testing is the premium public health option to help prevent often transfusion-transmitted diseases such as AIDS or Hepatitis C", said Dr. Akira Homma, Director of Bio-Manguinhos. "Furthermore, the increased quality of screened blood from donations will also allow the public health system to gain high quality and safer plasma products in sufficient volumes. Therefore, the new screening program will also reduce the country's demand for costly imports of plasma products which are needed to treat patients suffering from Hemophilia and other blood disorders."
For QIAGEN, this contract marks another, significant step in its expansion into the emerging Latin and South American markets. This expansion reflects the company's efforts to supply integrated molecular testing solutions for the improvement of health and living conditions in the region.
QIAGEN expects to launch further collaborations on screening programs with governments in emerging countries in the future. The company offers a wide range of technology and branding options for such programs.
Under the terms of this agreement, QIAGEN's extraction and testing components will be included in the screening kits and sold in a format featuring Bio-Manguinhos's name and branding. The kits will run on a high-throughput multiplex PCR platform which allows processing of large numbers of samples and detecting multiple pathogens in one single run.
The automated platform - which includes an advanced control system based on biosafe viruses developed and patented by Bio-Manguinhos. The partnership between QIAGEN and Bio-Manguinhos also involves technical advice for implementation of the production of enzymes and buffers in Brazil, but excludes the delivery of primers and probes.