Even leaving aside AIDS, liver cancer, etc., diseases caused by pathogenic viruses are a major concern for society. In developed countries, in addition to influenza, HIV, hepatitis C virus, and papilloma virus have become important problems. In addition, in Japan recently the media have been greatly concerned about the spread of HTLV-1, which causes adult T-cell leukemia and HTLV-1-associated myelopathy.
Few drugs show specific efficacy against viral infection, and in the case of viruses for which there are no prophylactic vaccines the most important approach is to increase social and individual awareness about prevention of infection. It is also widely accepted that there is a need to make progress with research on and development of new therapeutic drugs and vaccines. Reagents used for assays of and research on various viral infections have mainly been developed in Europe and the USA, but are in wide use in Japan. Tests for AIDS primarily involve judgment about seroconversion (i.e. about blood antibody test results becoming positive), but the WHO recommends simultaneous performance of an antigen test, which ascertains infection before seroconversion, and use of this test enables (i) prompt treatment to prevent AIDS development; and (ii) prevention of spread of HIV infection by behavioral modification during the early HIV transmission phase.
The assay kits currently in wide use belong to immuno-chromatography that detect the antibody, but kits that simultaneously detect the antigen have become available. However, the sensitivity is still low, and there is therefore a strong demand for increased antigen detection sensitivity .?Tests for HTLV-1 in Japan are carried out with pregnant women, using kits manufactured in Japan. There are no drugs with specific efficacy for HTLV-1 infection. At present, the only means of preventing mother-to-infant HTLV-1 transmission is to limit breastfeeding by the infected mothers, and there is therefore a great demand for vaccine development. In addition, specific treatment methods for leukemia(ATL) patients are currently being developed. Specific antibodies for HTLV-1 antigens and infected cells are essential for development of vaccines and new treatment methods, But in Japan at the present time almost all antibodies and kits have to be obtained from US or European companies.
Taking this situation into consideration, Ryukyu Immunology Corp. is carrying out activities relating to the development and supply of Japanese-manufactured kits, and antibodies and other reagents, for Japanese and overseas research and development, and clinical diagnoses. At present, kits and reagents relating to HIV and HTLV-1 are ready, and those for hepatitis C virus is to be covered in the nearly future.