Abbott Laboratories

Abbott Laboratories signs agreement with Enfer Scientific for mad cow disease (BSE) tests/ More rapid, reliable tests help ensure that only BSE-free meat enters human food chain

    Abbott Park, Illinois (ots-PRNewswire) - Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) today announced that it has entered into an agreement with Enfer Scientific Ltd. for the marketing and distribution of two diagnostic tests used to detect bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle.          The tests, developed by Enfer Scientific, an animal diagnostics company in Tipperary, Ireland, are used to detect the presence of the abnormal prion protein associated with BSE, also known as "mad cow disease."  The first is a four-hour ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) test, approved by the European Commission.  The features of the test, including its rapid turnaround time and high throughput capabilities, make it ideally suited for testing for mad cow disease.          The second test is a supplemental diagnostic test used to confirm positive results.  Both tests are conducted on brain tissue and spinal cord samples from cattle.          "Abbott's leadership position in diagnostics and its global presence will ensure that these important products are made widely available to meet a growing demand for reliable and sensitive BSE tests," said Thomas D. Brown, senior vice president, diagnostic operations, Abbott Laboratories.          The tests are manufactured by Enfer Scientific and will be marketed by Abbott under the Enfer name.          "We believe we have two very effective tests that improve the speed and reliability of BSE testing," said Louis Ronan, director of Enfer Scientific. "By helping to ensure that only BSE-free meat enters the human food chain, these tests are making an important contribution to public safety."          BSE is a transmissible, neuro-degenerative brain disease of cattle.  BSE first came to the attention of the scientific community in November 1986 with the appearance in cattle of a newly recognised form of neurological disease in the United Kingdom.  The prevailing theory is that the disease crossed the species barrier from cows to humans, and that people may catch the disease from eating beef that contains prion proteins.  Prion proteins are a normal component of human and animal brains, but if they assume the wrong shape, they become lethal as they create plaques that are toxic to brain tissue.          Abbott Laboratories is a global, diversified health care company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceutical, diagnostic, nutritional and hospital products.  The company employs approximately 70,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries.  In 2000, the company's sales and net earnings were US $13.7 billion and $2.8 billion, respectively, with diluted earnings per share of $1.78.     

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