Invitrogen, Agilent to market PathAlert infectious agent detection system

Companies sign a two-year agreement to co-market the detection system, a cost-effective screening and confirmatory technology for infectious agents. They also announced that it has undergone successful evaluations coordinated by the U.S. Department of Defense and EPA. In those government tests, the system was shown to be sensitive and specific for the identification of air and waterborne pathogens...

CARLSBAD, CA, & PALO ALTO, CA, April 7, 2005 -- Invitrogen Corp. and Agilent Technologies Inc. announced a two-year agreement to co-market the PathAlertTM Detection System, a cost-effective screening and confirmatory detection system for infectious agents. The companies also announced that the PathAlert System has undergone successful evaluations coordinated by the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In those government tests, the PathAlert System was shown to be sensitive and specific for the identification of air and waterborne pathogens.

The PathAlert Detection System can be used by government, military and research organizations for accurate detection of infectious agents such as Bacillus anthracis (anthrax), Yersinia pestis (plague), Vaccinia (smallpox simulant) and Francisella tularensis (tularemia) in samples collected from the air, food and water. According to the EPA assessment, the system accurately detected infectious agents such as anthrax and plague in drinking water with no false positives or false negatives at expected sensitivity levels. Invitrogen and Agilent will present full results of the EPA's Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) program at the upcoming American Water Works Association (AWWA) Water Security Congress in Oklahoma City, Okla., on April 12 at 9:30 a.m. CT.

"The superior performance of the PathAlert system in rigorous government evaluations confirms its strength as a cutting-edge system for the detection of biothreat agents," said Willem Folkerts, director of Invitrogen's Biodefense business. "The application of our advanced sensitive and specific PCR assays to Agilent's versatile lab-on-a-chip platform provides scientists with a highly accurate, fast and efficient method of identifying biological threats to public safety."

The PathAlert System, which features Invitrogen's PathAlert Detection Kits and the Agilent 2100 bioanalyzer or 5100 Automated Lab-on-a-Chip Platform, will be distributed by Invitrogen.

"This collaboration combines the strengths of our two companies to provide a superior biodetection solution for our customers," said Mike McMullen, vice president and general manager of Agilent's Chemical Analysis Solutions business. "Invitrogen has a history of developing technologies particularly suited to the needs of scientists in diverse areas of research. Similarly, Agilent has extensive experience in applying its proven technology to new areas such as homeland security."

"Biological agents represent a grave potential threat to public safety, and it is imperative that the life sciences industry provides government agencies with the tools they need to detect and neutralize these threats in a timely and effective way," commented Gregory T. Lucier, president and CEO of Invitrogen Corp. "By combining the complementary capabilities of our two companies, this collaboration promises continued innovation in our efforts to help make society safer."

Each PathAlert Detection Kit is a reagent system optimized for the detection of a specific infectious agent. Based on multiplex-PCR, the kits detect multiple regions of pathogen DNA and include internal and external controls, greatly reducing false positive and false negative readings. Using the PathAlert multiplex-PCR kits with the Agilent 2100 bioanalyzer and DNA chip and reagent kits, users can monitor DNA targets and controls simultaneously without the constraints imposed by conventional real-time PCR. Agilent's 5100 Automated Lab-on-a-Chip Platform can be used for biodefense applications requiring high-throughput analysis. The PathAlert System also provides less costly capabilities to detect anthrax, plague, smallpox simulant and tularemia.

The PathAlert System also offers the unique capability of multi-agent analysis in a single assay based on the biothreat agents of interest in a specific matrix, such as water, food or animal feed.

In a technology readiness assessment (TRA) conducted at the Army's Dugway Proving Ground, the PathAlert Detection System demonstrated that PCR-based technologies score high marks for both accuracy and low limit of detection. The system accurately detected the pathogens that cause anthrax, plague and smallpox (using Vaccinia as a simulant) with no false positives in over two weeks of testing.

The EPA's ETV program evaluated the PathAlert Detection System for its ability to detect the infectious agents that cause anthrax, plague and tularemia in drinking water. Above its limit of detection, the system accurately detected each of the target organisms 100% of the time. This evaluation clearly highlighted specificity, the ability to provide a negative response in the absence of the pathogen, and precision, the ability to provide a consistent result for multiple samples of the same pathogen.

Invitrogen's PathAlert Detection Kits provide highly sensitive and specific identification of infectious agents. Each PathAlert PCR SuperMix is a 2X-concentrated, ready-to-use reaction cocktail containing all components, except sample template, for the amplification and detection of DNA in quantitative polymerase chain reaction. The SuperMix formulation delivers exceptional sensitivity, precision and accuracy in the quantification of target sequences, with a linear dose response over a wide range of target concentrations. The master-mix format and integrated UDG carryover-prevention technology make this reagent well suited for high-throughput PCR applications.

The Agilent 2100 bioanalyzer is the market-leading microfluidics-based system for automated quality control, sizing and quantification of nucleic acids or proteins, and simple flow cytometric analyses. The system uses micro-fabrication technology to transfer laboratory processes onto miniature glass chips. Integrating fluid handling, separation and detection, the system offers substantial advantages over traditional agarose or SDS-PAGE gel electrophoresis in terms of speed, automation, sample use and data quality.

The Agilent 5100 Automated Lab-on-a-Chip Platform is Agilent's extension of microfluidic lab-on-a-chip technology into high-throughput and high-resolution sizing and quantitation of DNA and proteins. It offers unattended analysis of samples in up to 12 standard plates (96- or 384-well formats) with unprecedented reproducibility that is independent of operator, time or location.

Agilent Technologies Inc. (www.agilent.com) is a global technology leader in communications, electronics, life sciences and chemical analysis. The company's 28,000 employees serve customers in more than 110 countries. Agilent had net revenue of $7.2 billion in fiscal year 2004.

Invitrogen Corporation (www.invitrogen.com) provides products and services that support academic and government research institutions and pharmaceutical and biotech companies worldwide in their efforts to improve the human condition. The company provides essential life science technologies for disease research, drug discovery and commercial bio-production. Invitrogen's own research and development efforts are focused on breakthrough innovation in all major areas of biological discovery, including functional genomics, proteomics, bio-informatics and cell biology, placing Invitrogen's products in nearly every major laboratory in the world. Founded in 1987, Invitrogen is headquartered in Carlsbad, Calif., and conducts business in more than 70 countries around the world. The company globally employs approximately 4500 scientists and other professionals, and had revenues in excess of $1 billion in 2004.

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