HHS awards contracts for speedy flu identification test


WASHINGTON If the world ever faced an avian influenza pandemic, how would doctors distinguish it from the seasonal flu?

Health and human services department secretary Mike Leavitt announced Thursday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had awarded $12.9 million in contracts to two pharmaceutical firms for the development of tests that could distinguish the common flu from the lethal H5N1 form within three hours.

The two companies are San Diego-based Nanogen, and Gaithersburg, Md.-based Meso Scale Diagnostics, each of which received about $6.5 million for the contracts. The contracts provide funding of up to $10.4 million for Nanogen and $12.1 million for Meso Scale Diagnostics for further developments up to three years.

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