Reuters
March 26, 2008

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Europe’s top semiconductor maker, STMicroelectronics, said it has developed a portable chip to detect influenza viruses including bird flu in humans.

The device, which functions as a mini laboratory on a chip, can screen and identify multiple classes of pathogens and genes in a single diagnostic test within two hours, unlike other tests available on the market that can detect only one strain at a time and require days or weeks to obtain results.

The chip can differentiate human strains of the Influenza A and B viruses, drug-resistant strains and mutated variants, including the Avian Flu or H5N1 strain.

There have been 236 human deaths globally from the H5N1 strain, according to the World Health Organisation, though it remains mainly a bird virus.

“ST sees new high growth opportunities in the healthcare market, especially in areas like patient care,” said Francois Guibert, STMicro’s Asia Pacific chief executive, at a briefing in Singapore on Monday marking the commercial launch.

The VereFlu Chip was developed by the Franco-Italian chipmaker together with Singapore’s privately held Veredus Laboratories after more than a year of research. The application underwent extensive evaluation trials at Singapore’s National University Hospital last year.

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