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Abbott Laboratories (ABT) Signs Exclusive Worldwide Distribution Agreement With Verax Biomedical, Incorporated For Rapid Platelet Bacteria Test


10/20/2006 1:31:38 PM

ABBOTT PARK, Ill, Oct. 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Abbott today announced that it has entered into an exclusive distribution agreement with Verax Biomedical Inc., a leading developer of rapid tests for detecting bacterial contaminants found in blood cells and tissue. Under the terms of the agreement, Abbott receives worldwide rights to market and distribute the Verax Platelet PGD(R) Test, which is currently being evaluated in clinical trials. The Platelet PGD Test is an easy-to-use, disposable device designed to detect the presence of a broad range of bacterial contaminants in platelets just prior to transfusion. No additional terms of the agreement were disclosed.

Bacterial contamination in platelets and red blood cells represents the single greatest source of risk for lethal infections in transfusion medicine today. An estimated 10 million platelet units are transfused each year to patients in North America, Europe and Asia, and experts estimate that as many as 1 in every 2,000 units could be contaminated with bacteria.

To combat this risk, the American Association of Blood Banks requires all its members to implement methods to limit and detect bacterial contamination in platelets. Current culture testing methods can take up to three days before results are available. In comparison, the Verax Platelet PGD Test, which is designed to target antigens found on all species of bacteria known to be pathogenic to humans, is intended to provide results in less than 30 minutes. Clinical studies of the test are currently ongoing and are expected to generate data for a 510(k) filing with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"Our partnership with Verax will allow us to provide our blood bank and hospital customers with an important test to address the risk of bacterial contamination in transfusion medicine, and further emphasizes Abbott's commitment to enhance the safety of the world's blood supply," said Jeff Binder, senior vice president, diagnostic operations, Abbott.

"This agreement represents a significant milestone in our company's strategic growth," said Jim Lousararian, chief executive officer, Verax Biomedical. "Abbott's vast experience and knowledge of the blood bank industry make them a wonderful partner for us."

The Verax Platelet PGD Test is based on Verax Biomedical's proprietary Pan Genera(R) Detection technology, which targets common antigens found on the surface of all species of bacteria known to be pathogenic to humans. Clinical trials of the test are currently underway at University Hospitals Case Medical Center at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio; and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

About Verax Biomedical

Based in Worcester, Mass., Verax Biomedical is a leader in the development of rapid tests designed to detect a broad range of bacterial contaminants based upon its proprietary Pan Genera(R) Detection (PGD) technology. The first target application for its technology is to test for the presence of bacterial contaminants in platelets. Bacterial contaminants in platelets and red blood cells represent the greatest lethal infectious risks in transfusion medicine today, and no rapid, simple methods are presently available to effectively address this threat.

For additional information, visit Verax Biomedical, Inc. at veraxbiomedical.com.

About Abbott Diagnostics

Abbott Diagnostics is a global leader in in vitro diagnostics and offers a broad range of innovative instrument systems and tests for hospitals, reference labs, blood banks, physician offices and clinics. With more than 69,000 institutional customers in more than 100 countries, Abbott's diagnostic products offer customers automation, convenience, cost effectiveness and flexibility. The history of Abbott Diagnostics is filled with examples of first-of-a-kind products and significant technological advancements. For additional information, visit Abbott Diagnostics online at abbottdiagnostics.com.

About Abbott

Abbott is a global, broad-based health care company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical products, including nutritionals, devices and diagnostics. The company employs 60,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries.

Abbott is a global, broad-based health care company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical products, including nutritionals, devices and diagnostics. The company employs more than 65,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries.

Abbott's news releases and other information are available on the company's Web site at http://www.abbott.com .

*Verax Platelet PGD is a registered trademark of Verax Biomedical, Inc.

Abbott

CONTACT: Media, Kelly Morrison, +1-847-937-3802, or Financial Community,Tina Ventura, +1-847-935-9390, both of Abbott; or Media, Sam Everett, VeraxBiomedical, Inc., +1-508-795-0535



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