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Quicker is better in diagnostics

Orion Diagnostica focuses on developing rapid, point-of-care tests, such as its QuikRead® CRP test, which measures C-reactive protein concentrations from fingertip blood samples. QuikRead is an excellent example of a test that delivers real benefits to both physicians and patients, as it makes results available immediately.

One of the problems facing health care practitioners in making timely diagnostic and treatment decisions, and monitoring the efficacy of the therapy they prescribe, is that it can take hours and even days before they receive test results, although the analysis process itself often takes only a matter of minutes. This is often because tests are carried out in large batches by automated analysers in central and hospital laboratories, and valuable time is lost before results reach the right recipient.

Although not all cases are a matter of urgency, some do require immediate test results. As a result, a number of more urgent tests are now being performed outside laboratories, at small units, such as health centres and physicians’ offices. The results of these easy-to-use tests are available in a few minutes, and appropriate treatment can begin instantly, with no need to send patients or samples to a laboratory.

Why CRP?

One such rapid, point-of-care test is Orion Diagnostica’s QuikRead CRP test, which helps physicians differentiate between bacterial and viral infections very rapidly from a fingertip blood sample.

Levels of CRP – a protein produced by the liver – increase rapidly in response to infection, inflammation, and tissue injury. A person’s CRP level rises markedly during an invasive bacterial infection, and can be a thousand times higher than the normal value. Except for a few notable examples, viral infections normally cause no such rise in CRP concentration or only a very slight one.

The QuikRead system consists of a small instrument and a ready-to-use reagent kit.

Although elevated CRP concentration is not specific to any particular disease, quantitative measurement of the protein makes a useful addition to the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of inflammatory processes and the diseases associated with them. The higher the CRP concentration, the more serious the patient’s condition generally is. The result of a CRP test helps physicians evaluate whether a patient should be admitted to hospital, as well as monitor the progression of a disease and how effective prescribed treatment is, as the correct medication will quickly lower the level of CRP in the blood.

Committed to CRP testing

Although CRP was discovered in the early 1930s, it only became a routine test parameter in hospitals and central laboratories in the 1980s. CRP tests have been part of Orion Diagnostica’s product range since 1981, when the company introduced its CRP reagents for clinical chemistry analysers. These reagents are in widespread use today for large-scale CRP testing using fully automated, high-throughput systems.

Orion Diagnostica followed up its CRP reagents with the Turbox® Protein Analyser System in 1987, which gave small laboratories without access to large automated analysers the possibility to perform quantitative CRP tests and over 15 other specific protein tests. The Turbox system was Orion Diagnostica’s first step towards modern point-of-care testing.

Primary health care professionals were next to benefit, in the early 1990s, when Orion Diagnostica launched the first generation of its QuikRead CRP test based on fingertip blood samples.

Since then, Orion Diagnostica has tailored the QuikRead product concept to meet the needs of primary health care ever more effectively. The current QuikRead CRP test – consisting of a small instrument and a ready-to-use kit – is easy to perform, even by health care practioners without laboratory skills.

Better clinical decision-making

The QuikRead test provides a result in a couple of minutes. Together with careful clinical assessment, this can help physicians differentiate between a bacterial and viral infection while the patient is still present at a consultation.

If a patient’s history, disease progression, and symptoms indicate a viral infection, a QuikRead CRP test result within the normal range will support a physician in deciding not to prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotics are of marginal or no benefit against viral infections, such as the common cold, and reducing excessive and inappropriate antibiotic use is vital in today’s world of antibiotic resistance and multidrug-resistant bacteria.

These and other benefits have made CRP testing one of the most common diagnostic tests carried out in primary health care in the Nordic countries, and its value in clinical decision-making is growing worldwide.

The fact that the QuikRead CRP test provides immediate results during a patient consultation makes for more rapid diagnoses and helps start patients on an appropriate course of treatment more quickly.

90 years in the business

Orion Diagnostica is part of the Orion Group, Finland’s leading health care company and a manufacturer and marketer of pharmaceuticals, active pharmaceutical ingredients, and diagnostic tests for the global market. Orion provides health care practitioners with tools for evidence-based diagnosis, a variety of treatment options, and the means for monitoring the outcome of treatment. With a 90-year history, Orion is committed to increasing the quality of care and building well-being in the community.

> Titti Lindberg & Ossi Hiltunen
(Published in HighTech Finland 2008)