LONDON and CAPE TOWN, September 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
- Partnership with Cape Town's Tripelo to form part of UK-South Africa commitment to double bilateral trade by 2015
- Announcement coincides with World Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Day on 9 September
Trimega Laboratories, a leading substance misuse testing company, is implementing the world's first commercial project to diagnose and analyse Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) in new-born babies.
Headquartered in Manchester, UK, and founded and led by South African entrepreneur Avi Lasarow, Trimega has partnered with Tripelo, a forensic science company in Cape Town, to conduct the tests. Tripelo will start conducting tests in November 2011 and has already identified communities where the work will begin.
South Africa has 4,000 new cases of FAS reported every year, one of the worst rates in the world.
FAS is a pattern of mental and physical defects that can develop in a foetus when a mother drinks during pregnancy. When alcohol crosses the placental barrier it can stunt fetal growth, cause facial stigmata and damage neurons and brain structures.
Early detection of FAS greatly increases a child's chance of surviving the more serious consequences of the condition.
This initiative comes at a time when UK-South Africa trade relationships are entering a new phase. In June, the 9th UK-South Africa Bilateral Forum, hosted by Foreign Secretary William Hague, re-affirmed the commitment made during President Zuma's 2010 state visit to double bilateral trade between the countries by 2015. The UK Department for International Development committed £76 million between 2011 and 2015 to support the South African government with a range of development initiatives, including improving health.
Marius Fransman, South Africa's Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, said: "The Trimega/Tripelo partnership is a great example of how the UK and South Africa can work together to share technology and expertise and provide a world-class initiative to fight a global problem.
"Through leveraging such partnerships we can create an enabling environment to overcome the systemic roots of poverty and under-development and in a practical way realise the strategic foreign policy objectives that touch the lives of the poor and vulnerable sectors of society."
Bathabile Dlamini, the South African Minister of Social Development, said: "We are delighted that Trimega has partnered with Tripelo to help provide a solution to Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, which affects so many newborn babies in South Africa, and we look forward to Trimega transferring its technology to Tripelo in Cape Town."
Dr. Zola Skweyiya, the High Commissioner of South Africa in the UK, said: "Trimega is a highly innovative biotechnology company that has already commericalised hair testing for evidence of alcohol abuse, and I am very proud that under the leadership of South African CEO, Avi Lasarow, the company has set-up such an important scientific partnership between the UK and South Africa."
Avi Lasarow, CEO of Trimega Laboratories, said: "This is a real opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of thousands of babies impacted by alcohol abuse. We are proud to now play our part in making a contribution to the welfare of children in South Africa and to furthering the research into Foetal Alcohol Syndrome.
"South Africa is already a very important country for Trimega: we have conducted several substance misuse projects in the country, and part of our customer services team operates in Johannesburg."
Trimega's technology tests meconium, the first stool sample of a newborn infant, thus improving the chances of early detection. Professor Fritz Pragst, a member of Trimega's Scientific Board, is a leading research scientist on alcohol testing in meconium, and has successfully applied Trimega's technology at the Canadian Hospital for Sick Children.
About Trimega Laboratories (http://www.trimegalabs.co.uk)
Established in London in 2005, Trimega Laboratories is well recognised for being a leader in the development of innovative techniques for testing for substances of abuse. Its core business is laboratory-based analysis of hair samples that provide accurate historical records of alcohol or drugs dependency over a one to 12 month period. In the UK, Trimega's core clients include: family law specialists, law courts, and social services.
Trimega was the first to market with dual-marker hair alcohol testing (FAEE and EtG). Dual hair testing provides very accurate results: at its annual conference in March 2011, the Society of Hair Testing (SoHT) confirmed that dual testing on hair for alcohol misuse provides accuracy rates of over 94%, with less that 1% risk of a false positive, and 5.75% risk of a false negative. The SoHT's consensus was based on analysis of Trimega's data set of approximately 2,000 dual hair testing samples, the largest of its kind in the world.
Other services offered by Trimega include: Roadside Testing for law enforcement, Hair Steroid Testing for athletes, and Hair Benzodiazepines Testing.
Trimega won the title of Best Use of Technology in the 2008 Barclays-sponsored Startups Awards, and has been on the shortlist for the National Business Awards three years running. Trimega is also one of 25 companies to represent the UK in the 2011 European Business Awards.
Trimega was responsible for the creation of a Hair Strand Scientific Advisory Board. Its purpose is to analyse the fast growing database of information created from the 10,000 hair alcohol tests and 7,000 hair drug tests carried out on UK samples each year, of which Trimega is responsible for around 40%. The findings of the Board are shared with the Society of Hair Testing which will assist it in future decisions, particularly those relating to the setting of universal standards/guidelines.
Tripelo was selected by Trimega Laboratories in 2011 as the South African company that will partner with Trimega to establish a national compliance laboratory for testing of ARV'S in hair together with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and other identified substances. The company will work closely to establish a skills transfer programme and technology transfer between both countries as part of the bilateral trade initiatives between both countries.
About World Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Day
Every year on September 9th, International FASD Awareness Day is observed. Proclamations are issued in countries, states, provinces, and towns all around the world. Bells are rung at 9:09 a.m. in every time zone from New Zealand to Alaska. People all around the world gather for events to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking during pregnancy and the plight of individuals and families who struggle with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). The first FAS Day was celebrated on 9/9/99. This day was chosen so that on the ninth day of the ninth month of the year, the world will remember that during the nine months of pregnancy a woman should abstain from alcohol. Anytime is a good time to raise awareness about Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).
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SOURCE Trimega Laboratories