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Sep 1, 2009 (Vol. 29, No. 15)

Changing the Face of Clinical Medicine

Novel Technologies Take Aim at the Astronomical Cost of Healthcare

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    Using a unique assay design, the Hycor Ultra-Sensitive EIA System from Agilent Technologies provides quantitative specific IgE detection with testing capacity sized for moderate- to higher-volume labs.

    The annual “American Association of Clinical Chemistry” meeting is the largest conference focusing on the needs of the clinical laboratory. This year the meeting expositions and presentations prominently featured multiplexing technologies and new strategies for developing biomarkers. 

    Hycor, a division of Agilent Technologies, offers allergy testing as an aid to diagnosing and treating allergic disease. “Allergic disorders are predicted to worsen as this century moves forward, due to modern living conditions and the swift industrialization of developing nations, adding to the current worldwide incidence of 400 million with allergic rhinitis and 300 million with asthma,” said Mark Van Cleve, Ph.D., applications development manager.

    The company offers allergy-evaluation systems, including a broad menu of allergy tests aimed at insects, animals, food, and occupational and environmental allergens, as well as autoimmune testing. The tests, which screen for allergen-specific IgE, have been cleared by the FDA for quantitative detection.

    The platform is based on Hycor’s activated cellulose solid-phase technology and has demonstrated equivalence to the fluorescence-enzyme immunoassay. The portfolio includes an inventory of allergy tests which can be run on the Ultra-Sensitive EIA System and the Hytec 288 Plus system, which can handle a half million tests per year.

    “This platform offers full walk-away automation for allergy testing,” stated Dr. Van Cleve. “This highly sensitive technology offers clear benefits over the classic pinprick allergy testing.” He also stressed that, in addition to the improved sensitivity, there is a major improvement in patient safety. “When patients are inoculated with potential antigens in the traditional testing for allergens, there is always a risk of anaphylactic shock, which in its most extreme manifestation can lead to death,” he added.

    Hycor manufactures and markets allergy and autoimmune testing products widely used in clinical laboratories. The company also produces Kova urinalysis products that help standardize procedures to improve laboratory safety. “The company’s move into an ultrasensitive, fully automated allergy-testing system takes us into a place in the market where we haven’t been,” Dr. Van Cleve commented.

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