Great News for Omega Diagnostics

China approves Omega’s Food Detective tests

Alva-based medical testing company Omega Diagnostics has secured approval for use of its food intolerance product – Food Detective – in China as it seeks to target the country’s expanding middle class.

The development has come just two months after the Clackmannanshire company signed a distribution agreement for the product in India.

Food Detective, which typically tests a person’s reaction against 59 common food types, has been adapted for China to test reactions against 14 common foods.

The product will be distributed by HOB Biotech Group Suzhou under an existing distribution deal.

Andrew Shepherd, chief executive of Omega, said: “We are pleased to have finally received this formal registration for Food Detective and are delighted to be working with HOB Biotech in promoting this product for the health and well-being among China’s large middle class population.”

The components of the product will be shipped from the UK but assembled in China. The tests will assess intolerance to various cereals, nuts and beans, meats, fish, vegetables, eggs, ginger and tea.

Omega saw sales of Food Detective rise 5% year-on-year in the first half of its financial year to £539,000.

It has identified emerging markets, particularly the BRIC states – Brazil, Russia, India and China – as key targets for growth.

Robin Campbell, healthcare analyst at Seymour Pierce, said: “There have been delays to get Food Detective registered in China, with an original forecast of 2012 approval. This news is positive, although expected, and sales should commence in early 2013.”

Omega had a tough first half to its financial year, with pre-tax profit falling 21.7% to £132,000 after the wet summer hit demand for allergy products. Exchange rate movements also reduced earnings from continental sales.

But the company recently received £1 million of funding from Bank of Scotland to prepare commercial production of a HIV testing device that will be trialled by aid agencies next year.”

Article written by Tim Sharp

Omega wins £150,000 to develop new test on HIV

Omega Diagnostics Group could create up to 40 jobs in Scotland after receiving £150,000 funding to develop its new test for monitoring patients with HIV.

The posts will be added over the next three years at the medical diagnostics and allergy testing firm’s headquarters in Alva, Clackmannanshire.

Scottish Enterprise is providing the money through a Regional Selective Assistance grant which will be paid out in three tranches dependent on Omega meeting employment and capital expenditure targets.

Omega, headed by founder and chief executive Andrew Shepherd, said: “It is expected a first instalment of £32,000 will be received in the current financial year.”

Omega intends to scale up manufacturing facilities for the CD4 test with plans to produce commercial quantities before the end of the financial year.

The first phase involves converting part of its existing facility to meet the initial requests from customer with a second phase to expand the site further if demand increases as projected.

The CD4 test was developed by the Burnet Institute in Melbourne, Australia, and was exclusively licensed by Omega earlier this year.

The portable kit costs up to $8 and determines whether an HIV patient’s white blood cell count has fallen to a level where retroviral drug treatment is needed.

Tests currently have to be carried out centrally in laboratories because of the processes involved.

Omega believes there is great potential to sell CD4 into developing countries, where there are estimated to be more than 25 million HIV-positive individuals.

The instant results allow treatment to begin straight away, with Omega hoping to attract interest from inter-national aid organisations.

Omega’s nominated adviser Seymour Pierce hailed the “positive news”.

In a note it said: “CD4 testing is a bottleneck in starting anti-HIV drug therapy, particularly in emerging economies with low-resource healthcare systems.

“A convenient, low-cost point-of-care (POC) test would be a boon for healthcare workers in helping identify HIV-positive sufferers with declining CD4 counts.

“[Omega’s] test is set to be the only lower cost, low complexity POC test on the market.”

Omega employs 32 of its 120 staff at Alva. Last month it warned half-year revenues were likely to be flat due to difficult trading conditions in Germany. Shares in Omega ended the day up 0.12p at 14.12p.”

Article written by Greig Cameron

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