LONDON _ Celsis International, one of a handful of life sciencescompanies floated on the London Stock Exchange last year, is gearingup for the early launch of a number of products including systems thattest for microbial contamination.Celsis made this announcement Monday when it released itspreliminary results for the year ending March 31, 1994. These showeda pre-tax loss of L1.58 million ($2.37 million), well withinexpectations, said John Precious, chairman of the company. This wasafter research and development expenditures of L984,000 (nearly $1.5million) compared to L312,000 ($500,000) in the prior 12 months.Over that time, the company has increased its staff level from 15 to 48,allowing Celsis to accelerate product development.The company now expects to launch its automated system, Digital,with a focus on the enumeration of low levels of microbialcontamination, later this year. Celsis's technology relies on the use ofbioluminescence for rapid detection of bacterial contamination.Replacement For Agar Plate TechnologyCelsis will market its Digital system as a replacement for agar platetechnology in testing for pathogens. The company estimates that themarket for this technology could begin at $4 billion a year, based onthe fact that about 1.4 billion agar plate tests are used each year, at acost of at least $5 a test. Celsis believes that it will benefit from thepressure of high costs in the pharmaceuticals industry.The company said that it has been testing the technology with focusgroups in a number of companies with the objective of exposingDigital to a wide cross section of potential users. This work will resultin the production of a number of prototypes for use by a select group ofpharmaceutical companies as part of a testing procedure this summer,prior to the launch of the first Digital product at the end of the year.The company already sells Biokits to test for microbial contamination.Customers for Biokits have included cosmetics manufacturers, watercompanies and food processors.Celsis announced a research collaboration worth $800,000 with Merck& Co. Inc., of Rahway, N.J., at the beginning of 1994. According to aspokesman for Celsis, Merck estimates that it could achieve a savingsof around $30 million by reducing testing times for contamination fromtwo weeks to a few days.

-- Michael Kenward Special To BioWorld Today

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