Amersham International plc announced that it is collaboratingwith Singapore-based Scitech Genetics Ltd. to develop adiagnostic for DNA quantitation.

The diagnostic will measure the number of copies of DNApresent in a sample, such as how many copies of a virus are ina cell, said Trevor Nicholls, head of Amersham Life Science. Thetest will be able to determine how badly infected a person isand if drug therapy is having a beneficial effect on viralburden, he added. Amersham of Buckinghamshire, U.K., saidthe diagnostic approach will measure viral load in diseases ofthe Third World.

Nicholls said current viral diagnostics are protein-based andDNA-based and tend to measure only whether virus is presentrather than quantifying it.

Amersham will transfer proprietary DNA technologies toScitech, which will then develop new diagnostic services. Thetotal funding for the development project is US$1.89 million.Amersham will provide $235,000 over the course of the three-year project.

Nicholls emphasized that Amersham is not entering thediagnostic market. The company will retain the worldwiderights to market assay technologies that result from the projectto life science research.

Scitech will use the technology and products for clinical testingservices in the Third World. The company expects that aprototype testing service using the diagnostic methodology willenter the market in about 18 months. Established in 1988,Scitech functions as a research institute and clinical labprovider.

Amersham has more than 2,000 products on the market forlaboratory research. Its drug Metastron, for treatment of bonepain associated with prostate cancer, was recently launched inthe U.S.

-- Brenda Sandburg News Editor

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.