News | September 26, 2007

Isis Gets $1.2 Million Award to Expand Influenza Detection Capabilities, Enable Transmission Studies

September 28, 2007 - The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has granted $1.2 million to aid in influenza surveillance research through the Ibis T5000 Biosensor System made by Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc. and its subsidiary Ibis Biosciences Inc.
The NIH grant, applied for jointly by Ibis and the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute (LRRI) and subcontracted to Ibis by LRRI, provides funding for research studies, including assay development, and sample characterization in order to expand the understanding of transmission of influenza viruses, including the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza viral strain.
“We are excited to be working with the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, a world leader in respiratory disease surveillance, to aid in understanding the transmission of influenza viruses,” said Michael Treble, president of Ibis and vice president of Isis. “Our service laboratory capabilities provide us the flexibility to support important and diverse projects, such as this one with the LRRI. Consistent with our business model, with this government funding we will not only fulfill the grant’s specified research and screening activities, but we will also be able to incorporate any results and assay kit improvements into our commercial offerings.”
The award to Ibis will fund the development of expanded influenza detection capabilities with assays to identify and characterize influenza strains and aid in the tracking of influenza transmissions. Additionally, because of the high-throughput, cost-effective and highly specific characteristics of the Ibis T5000 Biosensor System, as part of the funded research, Ibis will be analyzing a large number of samples generated from the influenza surveillance research.
“This grant will enable us to continue to advance our research in understanding the transmission of viral particles in order to prevent pandemic spread of virulent respiratory diseases, including influenza,” said Frederick T. Koster, M.D., associate scientist, Infectious Diseases Program, Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute. “In order to screen large numbers of biological samples, we needed a technology partner that could provide high-resolution characterization of closely related viral strains, and could do so with appropriate sensitivity and high-throughput efficiency.”
Respiratory diseases such as asthma, emphysema, influenza, and chronic bronchitis are on the increase worldwide. LRRI, one of the nation’s largest independent research institutions and the only one focused solely on respiratory health, is committed to eradicating respiratory diseases through research aimed at understanding their causes and biological mechanisms, eliminating exposures to causal agents and developing more effective treatments.
Ibis’ universal flu surveillance capabilities were described in a recent research study published in PLoS ONE in May 2007. In the study, Ibis’ Dr. Sampath and colleagues report that they detected and correctly identified 92 mammalian and avian influenza isolates, including 29 avian H5N1 isolates. They also analyzed 656 human respiratory samples and showed correct, simultaneous identification of the viral species and subtypes with greater than 97 percent sensitivity and specificity.

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