Tuesday, November 16, 2010

iTODAY: World-first HFMD kit designed in S'pore

From iTODAY:World-first HFMD kit designed in S'pore

Lim Weilin | Nov 16, 2010 12:00

SINGAPORE - The fight against Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD), which has been a scourge for parents of young children around the world, is getting a boost in the form of the world's first HFMD detection kit.

And it was designed right here in Singapore, by Singapore Polytechnic (SP) lecturer Tan Eng Lee.

Dr Tan, who took two months to devise the kit, has been researching and working on HFMD since 2003. The kit can detect all HFMD-causing enteroviruses in two hours. In particular, it can differentiate the more virulent Enterovirus 71 strain.

He said: "With this kit, young children's lives won't be put at risk with severe complications and will be able to lead life normally upon early detection."

A press conference will be held later today to unveil the kit.

There is no specific cure for HFMD, but early detection can prevent complications which can cause death.

The worst HFMD epidemic hit Singapore in 2000, which saw seven HFMD-related deaths. So far this year, there has been 27,000 reported cases of HFMD, with the number of cases reaching epidemic levels in June.

The detection kit has attracted the attention of United States-based MP Biomedicals (MP Bio), which will be signing two licensing agreements and a memorandum of cooperation with SP to commercialise the detection kits in Singapore and Asia Pacific where HMFD is most prevalent.

The kits will be made in Singapore is expected to be made available for sale in the third quarter of next year. Each kit will be priced at between $13 and $19.50.

Clinical tests have been carried out at the National University Hospital and Singapore General Hospital since last month. In a joint press release by SP and MP Bio, the two organisations said that effective results have prompted MP Bio to consider making the kits available at all hospital and polyclinics.

Said MP Bio chief financial officer Thomas Stankovic: "These highly-sensitive molecular kits will help to detect the diseases quickly, prevent outbreaks and save lives. We are delighted to partner with the Singapore Polytechnic's R&D team to bring their innovations to the global market to benefit millions at risk."

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