Dec 4, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded four contracts worth $11.4 million in an effort to develop a 30-minute test for H5N1 avian influenza.The CDC said it awarded the funds to spur development of tests that doctors and field epidemiologists could use to test patients for both H5N1 and other flu viruses. Currently, testing for H5N1 in the United States must be done in 1 of about 100 designated laboratories and takes from 4 to 24 hours, depending on shipping time, the CDC said.Last month the World Health Organization (WHO) listed a rapid diagnostic test as one of the top priorities in avian and pandemic flu research. The CDC said it hopes a rapid test can be ready and licensed within 2 to 3 years.”The creation of a point-of-care test to rapidly detect human cases of H5N1 avian influenza would be a major step forward in our ability to protect public health,” Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said in a news release.The four companies, their tests, and the contract amounts are as follows:Cepheid, Sunnyvale, Calif.—GeneXPert Flu assay, $2.4 millionIquum, Marlborough, Mass.—LIAT, Lab-in-a-Tube, $3.8 millionMesoScale, Gaithersburg, Md.—Multi-Array Detection, $706,241Nanogen, San Diego—a novel point-of-care immunoassay system, $4.5 millionOver the next year, the companies will work to develop tests that can detect flu viruses and distinguish seasonal strains from H5N1 within 30 minutes, the CDC said. Existing rapid tests can tell only if a patient has a seasonal influenza A or B virus.CDC spokeswoman Christine Pearson told CIDRAP News the contracts are intended to fund the first two of five development phases.The goal for the first two phases is to produce a prototype test that can be evaluated by the CDC, said Dr. Ruben Donis, chief of the molecular virology and vaccines branch in the CDC’s influenza division. He said the agency will fund further development only if the prototype has “acceptable performance characteristics.”In a news release, Nanogen said that if the CDC funds all five development phases, the company would receive a total of about $12.5 million over the next 2 to 3 years.The four companies were chosen from 13 applicants, the CDC said. Selection criteria included the technical specifications of the test, experience in developing diagnostic tools, staff expertise, and access to labs with sufficient security to handle H5N1 viruses.The agency also promised to provide funds for a repository of influenza reagents and other materials to help in development of the tests.See also:Dec 4 CDC news releasehttp://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/r061204.htm
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A Florida man has been arrested after he accidently shot his friend with a rifle.The incident occurred Thursday night at the suspect’s home in Palm Harbor.The Pinellas County Sheriff’s department reported that 26-year-old Shea Michael Harkins and the victim, 26-year-old Sean Cook, were playing video games in Harkins’ room when Harkins decided to pick up a Colt M4 rifle he had been customizing. Harkins’ believing the gun was not loaded, then aimed the rifle at Cook as a joke.Cook then said “What are you going to do, shoot me?” and that’s when Harkins pulled the trigger.Cook was struck in the chest with a bullet and taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.Harkins was arrested and taken to the Pinellas County Jail where he remains as of Friday morning. It is unclear if he has legal representation.
The Nelson Leafs and Regional District of Central Kootenay recently joined forces to make a major contribution to the Kootenay Lake Hospital Foundation.The two local organizations presented a cheque for $8000 to the KLHF derived from bottles left by the public at RDCK Lakeside Drive Recycling Center and consolidated by the Leaf’s Bottle Depot.The donation was made during a pre-game ceremony at a recent Nelson Leafs hockey game. Mallard’s Source for sports would also like to salute the groups with Team of the Week honours.
California Meetings and Events Mags recently featured Santa Anita Park’s latest spots to hold group events. The feature says, “Santa Anita Park has stood proudly as an icon of American Thoroughbred racing for nearly a century. Now, Santa Anita is announcing a new range of fun, group-oriented event options, all available in a breathtaking setting crackling with the energy and excitement of live Thoroughbred racing.” The writer goes on to say, “Santa Anita Park’s historic track has launched some of America’s most legendary racehorses. Its new range of executive experiences is designed to take business out of the boardroom.” Visit the article to see the list of places they suggest for your next event or meeting.Via California Meetings + Events