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Omega boosted by performance of HIV testing kit

OMEGA Diagnostics has taken a further step closer to the commercialisation of a highly anticipated HIV test.

The life sciences company, based in Alva, Clackmannanshire, said it has produced a first batch of the CD4 tests from its preferred manufacturing protocol.

The batch has been found to perform in the correct manner and eliminated the variability of results seen in previous tests.

Omega confirmed it is now planning to do further test runs in the coming weeks.

It said: "The company is pleased to announce that it has produced a first reference batch which, when tested on patient samples, has produced results which are within the agreed design specification for the accuracy of the test and which demonstrate a significant reduction in the levels of variability previously reported.

"This is an important milestone in the technology transfer project and we will proceed to test the protocol with further independent manufacturing runs."

The company's share price received a boost from the update and ended the day up 0.25p, or 1.4%, at 18.38p.

Omega, headed by chief executive Andrew Shepherd, has previously indicated it may make a small amount of CD4 sales before the end of its current financial year in March 2014.

The CD4 testing kit is based on technology developed by the Burnet Institute in Melbourne, Australia.

The kit is used to determine if an HIV patient's white blood cell count has fallen to a level where retroviral drug treatment is needed. It does this in a relatively short time-frame and without the need to send the results to a laboratory.

Already it is said to have generated a great deal of interest from non-governmental organisations working in developing countries as well as other players in the life sciences sector.

Earlier this month analysts at Edison Investment Research predicted Omega could be making sales worth £2 million of CD4 by its 2015 financial year.

In interim results posted in November, Omega said it would almost double its Scottish workforce from 34 to more than 60 in the next few years if CD4 and an array of allergen tests, used in laboratories around the world, come to the market and perform as expected.

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