QIAGEN N.V. has announced that it has entered into a worldwide exclusive partnership with the Institute for Animal Health (IAH), a research and diagnostics institution for infectious diseases of farm animals. Pursuant to the agreement QIAGEN has licensed a novel molecular assay design for bluetongue, a viral disease among ruminants such as sheep and cattle. The cador BTV RT-PCR Kit, which was developed by the IAH, will be launched by QIAGEN in 2009 and further expand the company's veterinary testing portfolio.
Bluetongue is caused by the bluetongue virus (BTV). It mainly afflicts cattle and sheep which exhibit the highest morbidity and mortality rates reaching up to 70 percent. Since 1998, the disease has been rapidly spreading throughout Europe with outbreaks in most countries including the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Greece, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and France. In 2008 alone, 16 outbreaks of the disease have been registered across Europe. Currently authorities in the Netherlands and several other countries in Europe are struggling to contain outbreaks caused by a BTV type 8, previously only found in Central and South America, and Africa. The IAH estimates the potential economic impact of a major bluetongue outbreak to exceed € 600 million in the U.K. alone - resulting from increased mortality rates, losses in milk production, export and animal movement restrictions. Containment and therefore early detection tools are key to combat this disease.
"The combination of IAH know-how in bluetongue testing with QIAGEN's cutting-edge sample preparation and assay technologies creates a new powerful diagnostic tool to quickly identify infected animals and thus help to contain bluetongue outbreaks that are likely to occur in the future", said Prof. Peter Mertens, Head of the Arbovirus Research Group at the IAH. "Given QIAGEN's track record in molecular testing and its global reach, the company was a partner of choice to bring this technology to the international markets in order to fight this costly disease."