Verax Biomedical, Incorporated Taps British Biocell To Manufacture Platelet PGD Tests

Published: Dec 19, 2006

WORCESTER, Mass., Dec. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Verax Biomedical Inc., a leading developer of rapid tests for detecting bacterial contaminants in blood cells and tissue, has signed a 10-year agreement with British Biocell International (BBI) to manufacture the Verax Platelet PGD(R) Test. Under terms of the agreement, BBI could produce as many as 50 million tests and will establish a second manufacturing facility to handle Verax production.

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The agreement comes in anticipation of strong worldwide demand for the Platelet PGD Test and follows the recent Verax announcement of an exclusive worldwide distribution agreement with Abbott Diagnostics to market and distribute the 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.

Bacterial contamination in platelets represents the single greatest infectious risk in transfusion medicine today. An estimated 10 million platelet units are transfused each year into 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 the risk of bacterial contamination, the American Association of Blood Banks requires all of its members to detect and limit contamination in platelets. Current culture testing methods may miss as much as half of all bacterial contaminations and take up to three days before results are available. In comparison, the Verax Platelet PGD Test is designed to produce results in less than 30 minutes, and targets all species of bacteria known to cause diseases in humans.

"We anticipate tremendous demand for our Platelet PGD Test because it cuts the detection time for bacterial contamination to just 30 minutes. This could be the key to detecting contaminated platelet units missed by current culture based testing techniques. We need a seasoned contract manufacturing partner like BBI who can meet this demand," said Jim Lousararian, chief executive officer of Verax Biomedical.

"Because of its potential to reduce infection and fatalities after platelet transfusions, we believe the PGD Test will become an indispensable tool for hospitals around the world," said Julian Baines, managing director of BBI. "We are so confident in the success of the Verax PGD Test we are adding a second manufacturing facility to gear up to meet demand."

The Verax 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 and the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio; and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

For additional information, visit Verax Biomedical is located at 377 Plantation Street, Worcester, MA 01608. Tel.: 508-755-7029.

About Verax Biomedical, Inc.

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 Detection (PGD) technology. The first target application for its technology is to test for the presence of bacterial contaminants in the blood supply. 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. Each year an estimated 17 million patients receive more than 60 million units of these individual blood components in North America, Europe and Asia.

About BBI

Based in Cardiff, England, British Biocell International (BBI) was founded in 1986 and is one of the world's leading manufacturers of high quality immunogold and silver reagents for research and in vitro diagnostic (IVD) applications, produced under ISO9001:2000 certification. BBI has deep expertise in the development and production of rapid diagnostic tests, including products for pregnancy testing and ovulation prediction, Hepatitis B testing, and detection of salmonella and E-Coli. The company also provides custom conjugation, assay development and contract manufacture services for more than 300 leading pharmaceutical and biomedical companies around the world, including Merck, Kimberley Clark, and Becton Dickinson.

Contact: Sam Everett

(508) 795-0535

Photo: NewsCom: Archive: http://photoarchive.ap.orgAP PhotoExpress Network: PRN8PRN Photo Desk, photodesk@prnewswire.comVerax Biomedical Inc.

CONTACT: Sam Everett, +1-508-795-0535, or, for VeraxBiomedical Inc.

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