Enterprise Ireland, the Irish government agency for the promotion of international trade by Irish companies, today celebrated the success of client company Aalto Bio Reagents in launching its first-to-market native and recombinant West Nile virus (WNV) proteins for diagnostic test manufacturers, vaccine developers and researchers globally.
Aalto Bio Reagents is a leading developer and provider of raw materials to the in-vitro diagnostics industry and to research laboratories. Supported by Enterprise Ireland, Aalto Bio intends to become a global leader in the tropical disease and emerging pathogen sector. The recent addition of the WNV native and recombinant antigens further expands the company's range of tropical diseases, which already includes Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue. This provides leading researchers and diagnostic manufacturers with a more diverse protein selection, facilitating the development of assays with greater specificity and sensitivity.
"Complementing our existing portfolio of recombinant proteins and antibodies for Chikungunya, Dengue and Zika virus with the new WNV recombinant antigen and first-in-class WNV native antigens, provides our clients with a more comprehensive suite of products for tropical disease diagnostic testing," said Philip Noone, CEO of Aalto Bio Reagents. "We will continue to focus on the expansion of our tropical disease products to enable our customers to bring superior, best-in-class diagnostic products to market faster, and aid in the development of life-saving vaccines."
This arbovirus, first identified in 1937, is transmitted to humans primarily by mosquitos. Symptoms of the disease are similar to other acute febrile illnesses and severe neurological effects develop in 1% of sufferers. WNV can also be transmitted to humans through blood transfusions and organ transplants posing a significant threat, as 80% of those infected are asymptomatic. WNV has re-emerged in recent years, with the U.S. experiencing one of its worst epidemics in 2012 causing 286 deaths. In that same year, the largest ever outbreak in Italy was recorded and a new strain of the virus was detected. Several genetic lineages of virus exist highlighting the importance of adapting serological tools to specific epidemiological situations. For this reason, Aalto Bio is offering WNV proteins from the two predominant lineages of the virus:
Lineage 1 - Recombinant West Nile Envelope Glycoprotein (code CJ 6322) Native West Nile Virus Antigen, New York strain 385-99 (code BC 6338)
Lineage 2 - Native West Nile Virus Antigen, Uganda strain B956 (code BC 6340)
There is currently no WNV vaccine available on the market. Laboratory diagnosis of the virus is generally accomplished by serum testing, as IgM antibodies are usually detectable three to eight days and persist for 30 to 90 days. WNV IgG antibodies can also be detected shortly after IgM antibodies, but persist for many years following a symptomatic or asymptomatic infection. Cross-reactions in serology are common among flaviviruses, and as such, efforts are focused on the development of diagnostic assays with a panel of viruses in order to increase the specificity for IgM antibodies.
Speaking of the launch, Sean Davis, Director of North America at Enterprise Ireland said, "Thanks to its unparalleled commitment to innovation, Aalto Bio Reagents has flourished in Ireland's thriving life sciences industry and continues to excel in global markets. The availability of these proteins presents an exciting new opportunity for research and signifies an important milestone for Aalto Bio Reagents, and Enterprise Ireland is excited to continue to support their growth in North America."
The new native West Nile virus antigens are available in both the Uganda strain B956 and New York strain 385-99. The E.coli derived recombinant protein represents structural domain III of the WNV envelope protein.