A diagnostic designed to detect 18 of the most prevalent respiratory infections both virus- and bacteria-born in a single test is being used for public screenings in Ontario. According to Seegene (Rockville, Maryland), the Molecular Diagnostic Branch of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for Ontario is reporting "excellent" results from screenings using the company's Seeplex Respiratory diagnostic test.

According to Seegene, the Seeplex test can simultaneously detect 11 different respiratory RNA viruses, two DNA viruses and five pneumonia bacteria from samples including nasopharyngeal aspirates, nasopharyngeal swabs and bronchoalveolar lavage.

Seegene also noted that the test can be performed for the price of testing for a single pathogen.

Ontario's surveillance programs and related comparison techniques, which began in August, apply two different diagnostic methods for the pandemic studies, and the ministry is using Seeplex tests as a third for comparison studies. According to the company, the ministry has cited Seeplex's objective results interpretation, robust reproducibility and the test's high sensitivity and specificity. Seegene said the ministry also singled out the ease-of-use of the Seeplex tests and the advantage of not running out of samples because the test is able to detect multiple pathogens with just one sample.

Jin Han, director of R&D at Seegene, told Diagnostics & Imaging Week that the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for Ontario is one of the company's biggest customers. She said the Seeplex test was able to detect more respiratory pathogens than the ministry's other diagnostic methods.

"Our test is more effective than theirs and we can detect many more pathogens," Han said.

Seegene introduced the Seeplex test last year.

The 18 pathogens the test detects include: influenza A virus; influenza B virus; human respiratory syncytial virus A; human respiratory synctial virus B; human parainfluenza viruses 1, 2 and 3; human coronavirus 229E/NL63; human coronavirus OC43/HKU1; human rhinovirus; human enterovirus; human adenovirus; human bocavirus; Legionella pneumoniae; Streptococcus pneumoniae; Chlamydophila pneumoniae; Haemophilus influenzae; Mycoplasma pneumoniae.

"The Seeplex Respiratory is proving to be an important tool in the active surveillance of respiratory infections," said Jong-Yoon Chun, founder and CEO of Seegene. "Antimicrobial drug resistance is a major public health concern and a threat to the effectiveness of existing antimicrobial drugs. Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens continue to emerge that are very difficult to treat and that may cause serious or life-threatening diseases."

He added, "[Our] multi-pathogen Seeplex tests give clinical healthcare personnel the ability to quickly determine whether a patient's respiratory ailment is caused by a virus or bacteria, and subsequently prescribe the best course of treatment, whether an antibiotic, antimicrobial or bed rest."

Late last year Seegene introduced a new test, similar to the Seeplex, that is designed to screen for Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhea, 14 high-risk types of HPV and five low-risk types of HPV in a single tube, at the cost of a single pathogen test.