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Epitope Developing Oral Fluid DNA Testing

    BEAVERTON, Ore., Jan. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Epitope, Inc. (Nasdaq: EPTO) today
announced it has signed a joint research and development agreement with
Analytical Genetic Testing Center, Inc. (AGTC), a Denver-based forensics
laboratory, to develop DNA testing kits using Epitope's OraSure(R) oral
specimen collection device.
    "We are pleased to join forces with AGTC, an internationally respected
forensics laboratory, in the development and marketing of a non-invasive DNA
testing system," said John Morgan, President and CEO of Epitope.  "The
combination of our sample collection technology with AGTC's DNA testing
expertise positions us to move quickly to capitalize on the rapidly emerging
forensic DNA testing market."
    "Preliminary studies have shown that OraSure collects high-quality, stable
DNA that is well-suited to forensic and parentage testing," said Dr. Moses
Schanfield, President of AGTC.  "OraSure has a number of advantages over
traditional blood tests; sample collection is non-invasive, portable, requires
minimal training, and eliminates the risk of needle-stick accidents." In
addition, Dr. Schanfield explained that OraSure overcomes technical problems
associated with blood samples (the requirement for prolonged drying and long
incubation steps) and current oral sampling techniques (sample drying and DNA
degradation).
    The FBI recently announced plans to institute CODIS (the Combined DNA
Index System), a national database containing DNA "fingerprints" on convicted
sex offenders, on a nationwide basis in the spring of 1998.  It is anticipated
that the database will subsequently be expanded to include a number of
additional crime categories.
    According to the Bureau of Justice statistics, approximately 1.6 million
persons were incarcerated in U.S. prisons in 1995 (most recent data available)
and an additional 3.8 million were on parole or probation.  Certain
jurisdictions such as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are focusing
their DNA testing efforts on criminals who are in the system but not behind
bars (i.e., those on parole or probation).
    Approximately 200,000 DNA-based parentage tests were conducted in the U.S.
in 1996.  These tests are frequently carried out in connection with child
support cases and other legal proceedings related to parentage.
    Epitope, Inc. is an Oregon corporation that develops and markets medical
diagnostic products.  Its principal products, including the OraSure(R) oral
specimen collection device, focus on the use of oral fluid to detect HIV
infection arid other conditions, and are marketed primarily in the life
insurance and public health sectors.

Source: EPITOPE Inc.


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