QIAGEN Enables Efforts to Eradicate Costly Cattle Disease
Collaboration with Swiss laboratory Microsynth AG pioneers nucleic acid-based primary screening for Bovine Viral Diarrhea
VENLO, The Netherlands, April 21, 2008 - QIAGEN N.V. today announced that it has been awarded a contract by the Swiss life science company Microsynth AG to supply the molecular cador BVDVassays for detection of viruses causing Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD), one of the most widespread and costly infectious cattle diseases. The multi-year agreement is part of the Swiss national BVD eradication program in which over one million cows are to be screened to identify and contain infectious animals. QIAGEN and Mircosynth are pioneering the use of nucleic acid based tests for primary screening in a BVD eradication program. Currently, over 50 per cent of the Swiss cattle population are believed to be exposed to the BVD virus (BVDV), causing significant economic cost to the livestock industry as the infection can lead to a dramatic loss in weight. Worldwide, 60 to 85 percent of cattle are estimated to be exposed to the virus.
Microsynth AG is one of a few laboratories accredited by the Swiss government to perform tests for BVDV. The laboratory has signed exclusive contracts with several Swiss cantons accounting for about one-third of the Swiss cattle population to perform both initial tests based upon tissue samples and follow-up tests to verify positive results using blood samples. The main phase of the program will last three months and is scheduled to start in October 2008. Unlike in other countries, the Swiss program is designed to test every single animal, thus putting highest demands on test methodology and logistics.
Microsynth is pioneering the implementation of molecular testing for primary screening of BVDV, which provides several unique benefits compared to traditional testing methods aiming at viral antibodies or antigens. QIAGEN's cador BVDV assay is based on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology and can detect even tiny traces of viral RNA from a wide range of biological samples. Unlike traditional methods, PCR enables the direct detection of the pathogen itself independent of the immune status of an animal, which is also important for the screening of newborn calves. The assay enables the testing of pooled samples and is suited for high-throughput settings. It has already proven successful by Microsynth in screening 50,000 samples from young animals before their first summer pasture. During the main phase of the eradication program, Microsynth expects to process as many as 350,000 biological samples in just three months. The agreement also covers continuing screening of newborn calves through October 2009.
"The success of the eradication program depends on the identification and elimination of all animals persistently infected with BVDV, as the disease often occurs without symptoms and thus frequently remains unnoticed. QIAGEN's assay technologies guarantee highest sensitivity and specificity while processing large numbers of samples", said Simone Gauch, QIAGEN's Global Marketing Director Applied Testing. "QIAGEN products set standards for surveillance of infectious veterinary diseases and are being used by more than 80 renowned institutions around the globe. Our partnership with Microsynth further strengthens this leadership position and is proof for our competitive strength."
"Our company has a long history of commitment to innovative, reliable and high-quality solutions ensuring the highest satisfaction of our customers", said Dr. Tobias Schmidheini, CEO of Microsynth AG. "That's why we have chosen to use QIAGEN's molecular assays in primary BVDV screenings during the national eradication program. We believe that this state of the art technology fully satisfies our significant demands on our high-throughput BVDV testing procedure that is both highly sensitive and reliable."
In addition to the supply agreement with Microsynth AG, QIAGEN will also provide a complete testing solution incorporating the automation instrument BioRobot Universal, QIAamp sample preparation technologies and the cador BVDV assay to the Institute of Veterinary Virology at the University of Bern. The institute serves as the government-approved official BVDV reference laboratory for Switzerland and partnered with QIAGEN during the development of the PCR-based cador BVDV assay. This molecular test has set standards for BVDV screening in Switzerland and is widely used for confirmatory testing of positive samples, which have been identified using traditional immunological assays.
QIAGEN's veterinary testing business is organized as part of QIAGEN's Applied Testing segment which also includes rapidly growing application areas such as forensics, biodefense, quality control and others.
An estimated 60 to 85 percent of the worldwide cattle population which exceeds 1.3 billion animals are exposed to the Bovine Viral Diarrhea virus. The disease can lead to a dramatic reduction in the infected animal's weight. Because many BVDV infections go unnoticed and due to differences in the various national economies, it is hard to estimate the global economic impact of the disease. In Germany, experts estimate that the annual economic damage can reach up to US$ 115 per animal. That's why several countries including Norway, Sweden, Austria and Germany have already implemented corresponding eradication programs or have discussed their implementation.
Bovine Viral Diarrhea is one of the most widespread cattle diseases. The infectious disease caused by the Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus (BVDV) is closely related to the Classical Swine-Fever-Virus. In many cases, BVDV infections occur without symptoms and thus remain unnoticed by farmers. However, some variations of BVD such as Mucosal Disease (MD) are almost always lethal. Most damage is caused by BVDV infections occurring during pregnancy, as they often lead to persistent infections in newborn calves. Persistently infected (PI) animals typically exhibit decreased weight gain, increased disease vulnerability and reduced fertility. Also, PI animals are the main source of new infections with the disease. BVDV does not affect humans.
QIAGEN N.V., a Netherlands holding company, is the leading global provider of sample and assay technologies. Sample technologies are used to isolate and process DNA, RNA and proteins from biological samples such as blood or tissue. Assay technologies are used to make such isolated biomolecules visible. QIAGEN has developed and markets more than 500 consumable products as well as automated solutions for such consumables. The company provides its products to molecular diagnostics laboratories, academic researchers, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and applied testing customers for purposes such as forensics, animal or food testing and pharmaceutical process control. QIAGEN's assay technologies include one of the broadest panels of molecular diagnostic tests available worldwide. This panel includes the only FDA-approved test for human papillomavirus (HPV), the primary cause of cervical cancer. QIAGEN employs more than 2,600 people in over 30 locations worldwide. Further information about QIAGEN can be found at http://www.qiagen.com/.
Microsynth AG, located near the border triangle of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, was founded in 1989 as the first private DNA synthesis laboratory in Switzerland. Through continuous development and implementation of new technologies on a high quality level, Microsynth established itself as a highly-recognized provider of products, and services such as DNA and RNA synthesis, GMO analysis, genotyping, and DNA sequencing. The company's products are widely used in academic research, biotechnology, pharmaceutical industry, and in hospitals. Microsynth officially completed the certification process for all departments according to ISO 9001:2000. Moreover, Microsynth achieved the accreditation of the analysis divisions according to ISO 17025. The company's vast experience with lab-automatization and PCR-based analysis methods predestined Microsynth for the high-throughput analysis of bovine samples for the presence of BVD-virus. Further information about Microsynth can be found at http://www.microsynth.ch/.