Fujifilm signs with the French technology research institute BIOASTER, a joint study contract for the evaluation of a rapid diagnostic system for the Ebola virus disease (EVD)

High-sensitive influenza virus detection technology used to develop EVD rapid diagnostic system

February 3, 2015

FUJIFILM Corporation (President: Shigehiro Nakajima) signed a contract for a joint study of a rapid diagnostic system for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) with BIOASTER, an advanced public technology research institute in France dedicated to infectious diseases and microbiology on February 2, 2015.

In order to contain EVD, which is prevailing in Western Africa, and to prevent a wide-scale outbreak of the disease, it is important to identify EVD patients at an early stage and implement initial response measures to break the chain of infection, and optimize use of vaccines and drugs. To this end, there is an urgent need to develop new technology and products for rapid rule-out diagnosis* to be used on-the-spot with the patient.

The joint study aims to establish a simple, rapid, small-size and portable diagnostic system to quickly detect EVD, with high diagnostic capabilities, comparable to molecular testing. This is to be achieved by combining Fujifilm's high sensitivity virus detection technology with Ebola virus antibodies which are produced and evaluated by BIOASTER, an institution well versed in the field of infectious diseases.

This joint study is an international industry-and-government project by Fujifilm and BIOASTER, with both partners striving to solve public health problems around the world. The research will be conducted with cooperation from the French research institutions “CIRI” (joint research unit founded by INSERM, ENS de LYON, CNRS and UCBL)** and the Jean Mérieux Biosafety Level 4 Laboratory*** in Lyon.

About the system:
Fujifilm applied its silver halide amplification technology*4, traditionally used in the development process of photos, to develop the “highly sensitive immunochromatography*5 influenza diagnosis system,” which allows for an approximately 100-times greater sensitivity of influenza virus detection as compared to conventional rapid diagnostic tests*6, and released the system in October 2011 in Japan. The system detects the presence of the virus specimen using two types of antibodies, and offers the results in three to fifteen minutes. Its unique technology to detect even only a small amount of influenza virus in the initial stage of development has been highly recognized, leading to an increasing number of the system's introduction at medical institutions. This technology will be applied to develop a rapid diagnostic system for EVD.

About the partners:
BIOASTER is a technology institute that leads research programs in four major application fields in health-related microbiology and infectious diseases: vaccines, antimicrobials, diagnosis and microbiota. BIOASTER implements transdisciplinary R&D programs that bring together academics, small and medium-sized enterprises and industrials around thematic and technology units. Each project is undertaken by a team of high-level scientists and engineers that benefits from state-of-the-art equipment, technological infrastructures and academic research excellence. Teams are led by managers who are wellversed in the industrial standards, as well as from partnerships carefully developed for conducting breakthrough innovations. BIOASTER, an independent non-profit organization, is one of eight French TRIs (Technology Research Institutes). It was created in 2012 at the initiative of Lyonbiopôle*7 and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. It was founded by CNRS*8, INSERM*9, the CEA*10, Mérieux Institute, Danone Research and Sanofi, and is supported by 40 SMEs in the Lyon and Paris regions as well as the French government, through the Investments for the future program for the Greater Lyon region and the Rhône-Alpes region. Benefiting from two different locations in Lyon and Paris, BIOASTER has a staff of more than 80 people, including more than 60 scientists and engineers.

For Fujifilm, solving social tasks in the medical field is an opportunity for business growth. Fujifilm will continue to proactively promote research and development to expand its operations and contribute to the development of medicine around the world, as well as maintain and advance human health through innovative products.

  • * A test in which, if tested negative, the subject disease can be denied almost completely.
  • ** Short for Centre international de recherche en infectiologie (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médical ; Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon ; Centre national de la recherche scientifique ; Université Claude Bernard de Lyon).
  • *** Biosafety level 4. Laboratories and facilities that handle microorganisms and pathogens such as bacteria and viruses are ranked and categorized into risk groups at 4 levels. Level 4 facilities can handle the most toxic and infectious pathogens among various pathogens.
  • *4 Fujifilm's unique technology to amplify and increase the size of the virus markers (gold colloid) contained in the collected specimen, drastically improving the visibility. This is achieved by applying silver halide amplification technology, used in the development process of photos, to immune chromatography. The technology enables influenza to be detected in early stages of development while the amount of viruses is small.
  • *5 A diagnosis method in which a colored line indicating positive (antigen present) appears when an antigen-antibody complex, formed when the tested substance (virus) in the specimen (nasal swab) drops on to the reagent, bonds with the labeled antibody in the reagent and is captured by the antibody linearly applied on the detection line. Since this method provides rapid results, it is commonly used for the diagnosis of infectious diseases that require immediate medical intervention.
  • *6 This refers to rapid diagnostic tests among In-Vitro Diagnostic products which detects virus antigens using the collected specimens and enables to see the result with the naked eye. These tests are widely used at hospitals and clinics; notable examples are products that detect seasonal influenza antigen with immunochromatography.
  • *7 This is the name of the Lyon-based competitiveness cluster which aims to understand human and animal infectious diseases comprehensively, from prevention and diagnostic to treatment. A competitiveness cluster is a state or complex where commercial enterprises, small and medium entreprises, academic organizations and public institutions with expertise in a specific field are geographically concentrated in one location, where they synergizeand cooperate.
  • *8 National Center for Scientific Research.
  • *9 French national health and medical research institute.
  • *10 French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission.

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