EMERYVILLE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–April 14, 2005–Chiron Corporation today announced that the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) plans to initiate testing of whole blood donations using the fully automated PROCLEIX TIGRIS System with the PROCLEIX ULTRIO Assay beginning in September 2005. The donations, which are expected to total approximately 800,000 units annually, will be screened individually for HIV-1, hepatitis C and hepatitis B. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. In addition, the Western Province Blood Transfusion Service (WPBTS) in South Africa plans to initiate nucleic acid testing (NAT) in September with the PROCLEIX ULTRIO Assay, screening another 200,000 units annually. Chiron’s NAT products are distributed in South Africa by Ilex Medical Ltd.
“This agreement highlights the powerful combination that the PROCLEIX TIGRIS System and the PROCLEIX ULTRIO Assay represent for global blood safety,” said Gene Walther, president, Chiron Blood Testing. “Adoption of the PROCLEIX ULTRIO Assay has been strong in existing markets and is helping to drive geographic expansion of our business. We look forward to working with SANBS to protect health by improving the safety of the South African blood supply.”
“The implementation of the PROCLEIX TIGRIS System will add significantly to the safety of the South African blood supply. This system will be key to our risk management model and will minimize the residual window period risk of a transfusion in our country with a high incidence, particularly of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B. We look forward to working with Chiron and Ilex Medical Ltd.,” said Professor Anthon Heyns, the chief executive officer of SANBS.
“This endeavor is the most exciting project I have experienced in decades in our industry,” said Dr. Moshe Benshaul, chief executive officer of Ilex. “The challenge to implement NAT in the entire country within such a short period is feasible due to the commitment of the highly motivated professional team of SANBS. Routine use of NAT in blood screening will have a far reaching impact not only for the health of the South African community, but also for the whole region.”
The PROCLEIX TIGRIS System and the PROCLEIX ULTRIO Assay were developed in collaboration with Gen-Probe Incorporated. The fully automated, high-throughput PROCLEIX TIGRIS System can process 1,000 tubes in under 14 hours, facilitating testing in smaller pool sizes and individual donor testing. The PROCLEIX ULTRIO Assay is designed to detect the presence of all known HIV-1 groups and subtypes and HCV and HBV genotypes during the very early stages of infection, when these agents cannot be detected by immunodiagnostic tests. Use of the PROCLEIX TIGRIS System for the PROCLEIX ULTRIO Assay enables individual donor testing, which is the most sensitive method of screening blood donations currently available.