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Abbott Introduces Biothreat Assay for PLEX-ID™ System

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Abbott (NYSE: ABT) announced today that it has introduced the PLEX-ID™ Biothreat Assay, which is designed to detect and distinguish 17 different biothreat pathogens.  This assay enables rapid and accurate detection of potentially dangerous microorganisms that could pose serious threats to human health, food, water and other resources.

"While public health officials concerned with bioterrorism and emerging infectious diseases are detecting known, conventional infectious agents, it's becoming very clear there is a need for broader detection and characterization of pathogens for  biodefense," said David Ecker, Ph.D., divisional vice president and general manager, of Abbott's Ibis Biosciences subsidiary.  "The PLEX-ID system's new biothreat assay will serve that need by identifying and quantifying, for non-diagnostic purposes, a broad set of pathogens including bacteria and families of viruses in humans and animals."

The PLEX-ID Biothreat Assay permits analysis of direct specimens, such as blood, water, food and air filter samples, and provides results in less than eight hours.  Seventeen different bioagents are targeted in the new test, including Bacillus anthracis, E. coli, salmonella, ebola virus, and avian influenza viruses.  PLEX-ID offers the unique capability to detect and identify these, and other, bacterial and viral biothreat agents while also differentiating similar organisms.    

Research on the biothreat assay was presented at the American Society for Microbiology Conference on Biodefense and Emerging Diseases.  In a poster presented at the conference, Abbott and the Midwest Research Institute reported that an independent evaluation of the PLEX-ID Biothreat Assay showed it provides highly sensitive and specific results for biothreat detection in environmental air sample analysis.  

The PLEX-ID system can perform identification and typing of expected and unknown microorganisms from direct specimens, which saves time while providing critical information without the need to grow the agent in culture first.  


Currently intended for non-diagnostic use, PLEX-ID is the only high-throughput technology that offers rapid and broad identification, detailed genotyping and characterization, and recognition of emerging organisms.  The system employs a combination of molecular technologies, including polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for gene amplification and mass spectrometry analysis to rapidly characterize known and unknown organisms.  

It is designed to address a significant unmet need by providing test results in less than eight hours instead of three or more days required with current blood and tissue culture-based methods.

PLEX-ID is designed to identify a broad range of bacteria, viruses, fungi, certain parasites, and also provide information about drug resistance, virulence, and strain type.  Anticipated public health and biodefense applications include epidemiologic research and identification of emerging or previously unknown agents.  In addition, the system is being used for forensic characterization of human samples.

In 2009, PLEX-ID was recognized by both The Scientist and the Wall Street Journal as a top scientific innovation of the year.  The Scientist honored the system because it can detect and characterize a broad range of microorganisms in any given sample.  PLEX-ID was chosen as the Gold winner of the 2009 Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Awards because it promises to alert health officials to new disease strains, may also guard against bio-terrorism, and enable hospitals to identify antibiotic-resistant bacteria in its environment.

Since its development in 2005, PLEX-ID technology has been deployed in 20 sites around the United States, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

About Abbott

Abbott is a global, broad-based health care company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical products, including nutritionals, devices and diagnostics.  The company employs nearly 90,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries.

Abbott information is available on the company's Web site at

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