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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