Dublin biotech company launches protein to detect virus

Aalto Bio Reagents’ protein will detect and diagnose Venezuela equine encephalitis

One of the largest outbreaks of the virus occurred in Colombia in 1995.  Photograph: iStock

One of the largest outbreaks of the virus occurred in Colombia in 1995. Photograph: iStock

 

A Dublin-based provider of raw materials to the pharmaceutical industry has launched a product to detect and diagnose an infectious disease known as Venezuela equine encephalitis.

Aalto Bio Reagents launched the first commercially available protein to detect the mosquito-borne virus, which can affect humans and animals. It causes flu-like symptoms and headaches in healthy people and can cause serious illness and death in the young, old and immunocompromised patients.

Since the virus was first isolated in 1938, there have been 21 reported outbreaks in the Americas. The virus usually occurs after periods of long rain, which can cause mosquito populations to rise rapidly.

One of the largest outbreaks of the virus occurred in Colombia in 1995, according to Aalto Bio, with 14,156 cases and at least 26 deaths.

Aalto Bio chief executive Philip Noone said this was the first in a series of products the company would launch to deal with emerging diseases. The launch of the protein to detect Venezuela equine encephalitis will, he added, enable faster diagnosis, identification and treatment.

The company launched its new protein at the 11th international global virus network meeting.