NEW YORK, Jan. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Q-RNA, Inc., a privately held biotechnology company, announced today that it has recently validated its disease detection technologies for use with prion diseases such as scrapie in sheep and chronic wasting disease in elk. The company expects to apply its proprietary technology for the development of a new blood-based test for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or "mad cow disease." Current mad cow testing technologies require that animals be slaughtered for tissue-based testing to take place. Q-RNA's technologies would potentially make it possible to test larger numbers of animals prior to the onset of symptoms by testing the blood of live animals, thereby eliminating the needless slaughter of uninfected animals to reach a diagnosis.
Q-RNA's test results show a dramatic increase in the performance of immunodiagnostic analysis for prion diseases. These data suggest the potential for a highly accurate and cost effective diagnostic capability, which could be applied to mad cow disease as well as other prion diseases in animals and humans.
Q-RNA's Chairman of the Board, David R. Dantzker, M.D., and a managing partner of Wheatley MedTech Partners, LP, an investor in the company, said, "This is a significant breakthrough. Using Q-RNA's technology, elk, deer and sheep herds can now be tested with greater sensitivity for prion diseases that have been ravaging these herds. Presently, animals need to be slaughtered in order to test for the presence of prion disease. We anticipate that our technology can be used to develop a blood-based pre-mortem test to identify diseased animals prior to the manifestation of clinical symptoms. We expect that our technology could be used to more efficiently monitor and control mad cow disease on live animals."
New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who, as sole trustee of the $115 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund made private equity investments in Q-RNA in December 2002 and June 2003, through the Fund's investment in Wheatley NY Partners, LP, said, "Biotech firms such as Q-RNA are critical to reshaping New York's economy and helping it to expand. I am extremely excited and pleased that pension fund dollars are helping a cutting edge firm grow with the potential to create jobs in New York while at the same time supporting research into identifying and controlling mad cow disease and other damaging diseases. Firms such as Q-RNA are perfect examples of the kind of companies our $270 million in-state investment program targets to help boost New York's economy and to support important work."
"The recent discovery of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in the United States, and the recent blood transmitted variant CJD deaths in Europe, suggests that existing tests and procedures for monitoring mad cow disease are inadequate and leave the population at risk," noted Dantzker. "Validation of Q-RNA's technology for scrapie and chronic wasting disease holds significant promise for mad cow disease, where it could be used to provide a pre-mortem test that is hundreds of times more accurate and sensitive than any current option that we are aware of. In addition, Q-RNA's field-based technologies have the capability to simplify the diagnostic process, which currently can exceed five days to return a diagnosis, thereby potentially allowing tainted meat to continue through the food processing system and into the market before testing can be completed."
Blood-based pre-mortem testing for mad cow disease would be a cost effective way to enable the beef industry to protect the U.S. beef supply and for regulators to further certify the quality of beef and thereby build consumer confidence. Currently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture only tests approximately 20,000 cattle each year for mad cow disease, out of approximately 37 million slaughtered annually.
Q-RNA is a New York-based, privately held biotechnology company. The company's patented technologies include construction of nucleic acid ligands (called Amplibodies(TM)), and their use for molecular detection, the Tripartite System(TM) for drug discovery, and Immuno-Q-Amp(TM), an amplification system for use in developing diagnostics. To-date, these technologies have been applied to prions and protein-misfolding diseases, HIV, and biological/chemical warfare defense. Q-RNA investors include Wheatley MedTech Partners, LP, Wheatley NY Partners, LP, Durand Venture Associates, LLC and Double D Venture Fund, LP. More information about Q-RNA is available at http://www.q-rna.com/.
For more information about BSE:
Office of International Epizootics, World Organization for Animal Health
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Statistics
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)
World Health Organization Fact Sheets, November 2000
A vital source of regularly upgraded data for scientists, business and
the media: http://www.priondata.org/