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Southampton team wins global swine flu race
A TEAM of scientists in Southampton have won the global race to create the first DNA test for the swine flu virus.
Four genetic experts have been working around the clock at the Millbrook Technology Campus to confirm their two-hour detection kit works.
The breakthrough, which could help stop a full-blown global flu pandemic, came at 12.30am on Sunday.
"It was a great moment. There was a lot of excitement about the kit and pressure make sure it works, said Dr Jim Wicks, one of PrimerDesign's founding directors.
He said hundreds of other labs around the world have been racing to create the same test.
Current tests take up to two days to confirm a diagnosis, allowing the contagious virus to spread uncontrollably from human-to-human.
PrimerDesign's rapid swab kit will mean sufferers can be quarantined immediately and receive anti-viral treatment - potentially saving lives and slowing the spread.
The firm will next week began manufacturing the kits to fulfil orders for tens of thousands of units from health authorities in Mexico, where 454 people have been struck down, and Spain, the worst affected European country. There are also orders from the Middle East.
"We believe this will be a significant moment in the company's history," said Dr Wicks.
Staff at the PrimerDesign laboratories, which specialises in producing high-tech DNA detection kits, have been working on the swine flu test since the US Centre for Disease Control published the genetic data for the killer virus last Monday.
PrimerDesign was founded by University of Southampton scientists in 2005.