Biotech firm MTek gets FDA approval for ASF test kit

Biotech firm MTek gets FDA approval for ASF test kit

LOCAL biotechnology firm Manila HealthTek, Inc. (MTek) secured the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Oct. 12 for its test kit that detects African Swine Fever (ASF).

MTek said in a statement late Monday that it is now preparing for the test kit’s nationwide rollout, which is expected to start before the end of 2021.

“The highly contagious, often fatal pig disease, continues to threaten not just food security but the livelihood of local farmers. Quick detection is needed to ensure rapid response and containment of the disease,” MTek said.

Raul V. Destura, MTek founder and chief executive officer, said the company’s ASF test kit costs less since it is locally manufactured.

“In fact, it is the cheapest reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing for ASF in the market,” Mr. Destura said.

“We want to reach out, most especially to the small producers, who don’t have a biosecurity system in place that bigger farms have,” he added.

In August, MTek announced that it developed the ASF test kit. The biotech firm said the product had been deemed 100% sensitive and 100% specific after being validated by a national reference animal-testing laboratory.

Based on its website, MTek is engaged in developing portable diagnostic kits that test for various infectious diseases.

Some of the kits developed by MTek are the Biotek-M DengueAqua Kit and the GenAmplify coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) RT-PCR test kit.

ASF is a hemorrhagic viral disease that affects pigs but poses no health risk to humans, according to the World Organization for Animal Health. The country’s first outbreak was confirmed in 2019, and has since affected the its hog inventory, causing high pork prices.

Recently, the Department of Agriculture declared Abuyog, Leyte as officially free from ASF after 211 days since the animal disease was first detected in the area. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave