According to Zacks – Diagnostic test kit maker Meridian Bioscience (VIVO – Snapshot Report) recently reported that its tests have successfully detected the deadly toxins produced by E. coli O104:H4, the rare strain of the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli) responsible for the recent E. coli outbreak in Europe.
E. coli O104:H4, the virulent shiga toxin producing E. coli (“STEC”) strain, is responsible for many deaths and has also caused hemolytic uremic syndrome (“HUS”) in hundreds of others. HUS, which predominantly affects children, is a life-threatening condition which typically occurs when an infection in the digestive system produces toxic substances that destroy red blood cells, leading to kidney failure.
STEC, the common foodborne contaminants, is the shiga toxins (shiga toxin 1 or shiga toxin 2) that the organisms produce, causing serious complications in the infected person. Studies reveal that shiga toxin 2 has a higher association with HUS. As such, rapid detection of toxin 2 type will allow physicians to immediately isolate and treat infected patients to lower the chances of HUS development.
Europe has been plagued by the worst E. coli crisis in recent history. Already 37 people have reportedly succumbed to Germany’s killer E. coli outbreak, the one of its kind ever recorded.
There has been 1 confirmed and three suspected cases of E. coli O104:H4 infection in the U.S. Moreover, 1 HUS case in Massachusetts has been confirmed as similar to the German outbreak strain.
Meridian conducted testing on one of these clinical samples using its two distinct tests for STEC (Premier EHEC and ImmunoCard STAT! EHEC) and confirmed that its tests have correctly identified the samples as shiga toxin 2 producing. The Premier EHEC and ImmunoCard STAT! EHEC tests detected both shiga toxin types. The ImmunoCard STAT! EHEC offers an added benefit as it differentiates between shiga toxin 1 and shiga toxin 2.
Cincinnati-based Meridian specializes in developing diagnostic test kits for multiple serious and infectious diseases. Its diagnostics business faces strong competition from Abbott Laboratories (ABT – Analyst Report), Becton, Dickinson and Company (BDX – Analyst Report), Thermo Fisher (TMO – Analyst Report) and Siemens (SI – Analyst Report).
Meridian is expecting a rebound in 2011 from a beleaguered fiscal 2010 which was hit by a dreary influenza season, stiff competition in its C. difficile diagnostic business and a soft economy.
The company hopes sales in fiscal 2011 to be boosted by its diagnostic test kits for detecting bacteria like C. difficile and H. pylori. Moreover, the illumigene molecular test platform, which represents Meridian’s response to growing competition, is expected to be its principal growth engine in the coming years.