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Japanese Scientists Develop One-hour SARS Test Kit

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TOKYO (AFX-ASIA) - Japanese scientists have developed a kit to diagnose SARS infection within one hour and the government hopes to make it available by the coming winter amid fears of a comeback of the epidemic, the Asahi Shimbun reported.

The kit's reagent starts becoming clouded 30 minutes after being mixed with blood samples or throat membrane from someone with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the report said.

It was jointly developed by an anti-virus team at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases and private-sector Eiken Chemical Co Ltd, the newspaper said.

No immediate confirmation of the report was available from the institute or the company.

The Asahi said the kit was capable of spotting more than 80 pct of SARS patients in an initial trial involving scores of people.

Fuller tests using hundreds of samples are being conducted in collaboration with research centers in Hong Kong, Vietnam and France with results expected in November, it said.

The Japanese health ministry hopes to use the kit at quarantine offices at airports in winter this year if it proves reliable, the paper said.

In Singapore, biotechnology company Genelabs Diagnostics has teamed up with the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology to develop a 15-minute palm-sized test kit, said to be capable of generating pin-point results with just a drop of serum, plasma or blood.

Copyright 2003 AFX News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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