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Collaboration to develop genetic screening test for Staphylococcus infection


Calgary and Toronto, ON December 18, 2003 Medical diagnostic laboratory Calgary Laboratory Services (CLS) and DNA-based diagnostics company Tm Bioscience say they intend to collaborate to develop a novel genetic test for the identification and characterization of Staphylococcus aureus (SA), particularly methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in a hospital setting.

“We are excited to be working with CLS in this, our first infectious disease initiative” says Greg Hines, president and CEO of Tm Bioscience. “CLS has clearly taken aim at this infectious agent and has the research capability to advance clinical work in this area.”

“SA/MRSA is a scourge in the hospital setting,” says Dr Deirdre Church, division head, microbiology, CLS. “Our studies estimate that acquisition of a SA/MRSA infection substantially increases the patient’s length of stay, and some patients will also have permanent damage or even die due to this serious complication. Tm’s unique approach to genotyping complements the research underway to provide better, faster, and more accurate identification of this pathogen.”

SA/MRSA infections are common in hospitals. MRSA is a highly infectious and difficult to treat form of Staphylococcus that can be transmitted between patients and, during an outbreak, can cause ward closures. Patients who are carriers or infected with MRSA are placed on isolation and those coming in close contact are also immediately tested. Currently, most laboratories diagnose MRSA infections using culture methods that are inefficient, have a slow turnaround time of 5-7 days and are not sensitive enough to detect all cases.

Although molecular methods are used routinely at CLS and other large laboratories, there are no standard commercial molecular assays available for MRSA detection. The new test will speed up identification of SA/MRSA carriers and infected individuals, so that appropriate infection prevention and control measures and/or treatment can be started earlier.