China began on Monday to batch-produce a new gene-based reagent capable of quickly diagnosing severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
At a news briefing, Wang Shushan, deputy director of Henan Provincial Bureau of Science and Technology, said that the State Food and Drug Administration has approved the reagent for production and medical purposes.
The Henan Provincial Bio-Engineering Technology Research Center, the Viral Disease Prevention and Control Institute of the China Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Huamei Bio-Engineering Company jointly developed the reagent. These organizations hold full intellectual property rights to the new product.
Wang Yunlong, a specialist who participated in the development of the reagent, said that it can monitor 50 variations of the SARS virus under any condition and will be an efficient tool in the control of a public health crisis. In addition to clinical diagnosis and virus identification, the reagent can be used to assess the effect of vaccines, clinical blood tests, surveys of epidemics and effectiveness of treatment.
The SARS reagent will hit the market soon.
China was hit hard by an outbreak of SARS in 2003, when 5,327 cases were reported on the mainland and 349 people died.
(Xinhua News Agency November 23, 2004)