MELBOURNE, Australia, November 14 /PRNewswire/ --

Swiss experts have abandoned the over 100 year old tuberculin skin test (TST) favouring the use of interferon-a release assays such as QuantiFERON(R)-TB Gold (QFT(TM)) for screening patients for tuberculosis (TB) infection prior to initiating biological treatments (such as anti-TNF-a therapy). In recommendations published in the current issue of the Swiss Medical Weekly, experts advocate the use of QFT(TM) in place of the TST, as it is more accurate (sensitive & specific) than the TST in individuals with immune suppression and provides rapid and reproducible results. These recommendations come after the recent approval of the In-Tube format of QFT(TM) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA) and its widespread use in Europe and Asia for a number of years.

Biological treatments (like anti-TNF-a) are increasingly being used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, dermatological conditions like psoriasis and gastroenterological conditions like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Patients receiving anti-TNF-a therapy are at a higher risk of developing tuberculosis during treatment than patients with similar diseases not receiving anti-TNF-a therapy or the general population. Most cases of TB appear due to reactivation of latent TB infection and not new (or de novo) infection, and the Swiss recommendations advocate screening all patients for TB infection prior to initiating anti-TNF-a therapy. In addition to QFT(TM) use, screening should be based on a detailed medical history and a chest x-ray.

Preventive treatment should be offered to all patients with evidence of latent tuberculosis infection before starting anti-TNF-a therapy. For patients with a positive QFT(TM) result, the experts unanimously supported appropriate preventive drug treatment for TB.

The group of experts (in rheumatology, gastroenterology & pneumology) published the recommendations in the current issue of Swiss Medical Weekly, the official journal of the Swiss Society of Infectious Diseases, the Swiss Society of Internal Medicine and the Swiss Respiratory Society.

References Swiss Med Wkly 2007; 137:621-622. http://www.smw.ch/docs/pdf200x/2007/43/smw-11939.pdf

About QuantiFERON(R)-TB Gold (QFT(TM)):

QFT(TM)- - a simple blood test -- is the first major advancement in TB diagnosis since the introduction of the tuberculin skin test (TST) over 100 years ago. The QFT(TM) test is based on measurement of a cell mediated immune response in TB-infected individuals. The T cells of these individuals are sensitized to TB, and respond to stimulation with peptides simulating those expressed by the TB causing bacteria, secreting a cytokine called interferon-a. QFT(TM) accurately measures the interferon-a response in a sensitive enzyme assay. QFT(TM) is unaffected by previous BCG vaccination and most other mycobacteria.

Unlike the TST, it requires only one patient visit, is a controlled laboratory test, and provides an objective, reproducible result that is not subject to interpretation based on a patient's relative risk factors for TB exposure.

About Cellestis:

Cellestis is a listed Australian biotechnology company commercializing QuantiFERON(R) technology for diagnosing TB and other diseases worldwide. The Company operates through subsidiaries in the USA, Europe and Australia.

For more information, visit www.cellestis.com or please contact one of our local spokespersons at:

Cellestis International AUSTRALIA Tel: +61-3-9571-3500 (tel) quantiferon@cellestis.com (Contact Mr. George Dragovic) Cellestis Europe GERMANY Tel: +49-6151-428-590 europe@cellestis.com (Contact Mr. Paul Lebeau) Cellestis Inc. USA US Toll free: +1-800-519-4627 customer.service@cellestis.com (Contact Mr. Mark Boyle)

Web site: http://www.cellestis.com

In Australia: Mr. George Dragovic of Cellestis International, +61-3-9571-3500, quantiferon@cellestis.com; or in Germany: Mr. Paul Lebeau of Cellestis Europe, +49-6151-428-590, europe@cellestis.com; or in the USA: Mr. Mark Boyle of Cellestis Inc., +1-800-519-4627, customer.service@cellestis.com