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The University of Southampton

First swine flu DNA test produced and distributed by Southampton company

Published: 8 May 2009

SOUTHAMPTON, UNITED KINGDOM - PrimerDesign Ltd, a UK firm founded by University of Southampton scientists, has won the race to produce the first DNA test kit for the Mexican swine flu.

The first shipment of rapid-results tests has been sent today directly to Mexico as well as many other territories to help authorities monitor the increasing number of suspected cases.

Project coordinator Dr Rob Powell said: "This past Sunday at midnight was a very special moment for us. We were able to show conclusively that the test works."

The rapid test has results in only two hours compared to current diagnostic tests which take two days.

"Monitoring the spread of the virus is now the key weapon against a possible pandemic. These tests will contribute to the global effort to halt the disease," said Dr Jim Wicks from PrimerDesign.

The company is part of the University's SETsquared Business Incubation programme.

The PrimerDesign swine flu real-time PCR kit is sold primarily for research use but could be used to diagnose the disease in laboratories globally.

Notes for editors

  • 1. For more on Primer Design, visit

  • 2. The SETsquared Incubation Programme at the University of Southampton provides intensive business support to high-tech start-up companies. One of four centres in southern England, the programme uses in-house expertise and a network of seasoned entrepreneurs, investment advisors, professional services firms and academics to provide the breadth and depth of support that emerging technology companies of the future require. PrimerDesign moved from the centre in 2008 to Millbrook Technology Campus, where they continue to grow.

  • 3. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship across a wide range of subjects in engineering, science, social sciences, health and humanities.

    With over 22,000 students, around 5000 staff, and an annual turnover of more than £370 million, the University of Southampton is acknowledged as one of the country's top institutions for engineering, computer science and medicine. We combine academic excellence with an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to research, supporting a culture that engages and challenges students and staff in their pursuit of learning.

    The University is also home to a number of world-leading research centres, including the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, the Optoelectronics Research Centre, the Web Science Research Initiative, the Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, and the Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute.

    For further information contact:

    Sophie Docker, Media Relations Officer, Communications, University of Southampton +44 (0)23 8059 8933/5457 +44 (0)7904 364331
    Emma Connolly, Research and Innovation Services, University of Southampton +44(0) 238 059 8414

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