The detection and quantification of pathogens in foodstuffs and in biological, environmental and human samples is an essential health issue. The incidence of viruses such as the hepatitis A virus (HAV) in Europe is high enough to require sensitive and efficient methods of detection. However, the broad range of potential transmission vehicles of this virus (for example, foods such as fruit or vegetables, blood, or even the environment), adds to the difficulty of developing a detection method that can be successfully applied in all situations. The researchers at the UB’s Department of Microbiology have taken up this challenge and have managed to develop a new method for detecting HAV using real-time RT-PCR. This technique involves the extraction of the genetic material from the virus – in this case RNA – and its quantification by PCR. The advantage of the UB project is that the technique can be used in a wide variety of sample types. The test also includes the addition of a non-pathogenic virus which makes it possible to control the efficiency of extraction of the viral genetic material.
The process of extracting nucleic acid extraction is a critical point in virus quantification methods. The material is highly sensitive and is easily denatured. This means that methods that do not have a suitable control will generate a high number of false negative results. To overcome this limitation, researchers at the University of Barcelona have developed a new analytical method that includes a harmless virus (the Mengo virus) as a control of the process. This technique ensures that the quantification is valid and standardized.
After patenting both techniques, with these licence agreements the AVCRI has finished the process of the transfer of the project, and this important technological breakthrough will soon be exploited to the benefit of society. CEERAM is a French laboratory which specializes in the genetic identification of viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi, and which aims to become the European centre of reference for the prevention of biological risks. This means that CEERAM is the ideal company for marketing the UB’s two patents. The signing of these two agreements also opens up new possibilities for cooperation between UB researchers and CEERAM, which are sure to achieve important new breakthroughs in the near future.
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Under these two licence agreements, CEERAM has already marketed a set of diagnostic kits using the trademark ceeramTools™
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