Immunetics, Inc., a Cambridge, Massachusetts based diagnostics and assay technology company, was awarded a contract by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) today for development and validation of laboratory tests for anthrax infection. No validated test for anthrax infection in humans is currently commercially available. Immunetics will work closely with the CDC to develop both screening and confirmatory tests. When validated, the tests will be made available commercially to public and private laboratories throughout the U.S. The tests will also be available for use in testing individuals vaccinated against anthrax, in order to discriminate between vaccination and actual infection.
Anthrax has been on the CDC’s “A” list of potential bioterrorism agents since the attacks of October, 2001. This bacterial disease is rapidly fatal in the inhalational form. Anthrax may also produce cutaneous or gastrointestinal infections in which survival is possible with early and effective treatment. Laboratory tests for infection are one of the principal tools in the public health system’s armamentarium, and are useful in distinguishing actual cases of infection from spurious ones. The ongoing development and production of anthrax vaccines for both military and civilian use further accentuates the need for tests to monitor individuals who may be vaccinated and potentially exposed to anthrax.
“We are honored that the CDC has selected Immunetics for this important public health mission” said Dr. Andrew Levin, Immunetics’ founder and Chief Executive Officer. “Since last year’s anthrax attacks, we were certain that our skills and expertise in developing tests for exotic pathogens would be of use in the fight against bioterrorism. Many of the techniques that we have developed to test for other pathogens, such as HIV and Lyme disease bacteria, can be directly applied to anthrax and other biological warfare agents. We look forward to this project, which will lead to the first validated anthrax test available commercially to the U.S. public health network and laboratories around the world.”
The CDC award was made by the National Centers for Infectious Diseases (NCID) based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Immunetics offers state-of-the-art assay technology for infectious disease research and diagnosis, and for over ten years has been a leading innovator of tests for HIV, Lyme and other infectious diseases. The company produces and markets a range of infectious disease immunoassay kits and instruments.