Japanese Red Cross selects Roche as partner for nucleic acid screening of entire Japanese blood supply

October 16, 2007

Unique cobas test system for simultaneous detection of HIV and Hepatitis in donated blood

Roche announced today that the Japanese Red Cross (JRC) has selected Roche as supplier for next-generation nucleic acid screening of the country’s 5 million annual blood donations. Nucleic acid testing (NAT) is a highly sensitive technology that can improve blood safety by detecting viral infections other donor screening methods may miss. The tests will be performed on Roche’s fully integrated and automated cobas s 401 instrument with the cobas TaqScreen MPX Test. The test is able to simultaneously detect HIV-1 (Groups M & O), HIV-2, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C viruses in donated blood.


We are extremely proud that the Japanese Red Cross has selected Roche to provide their next generation NAT screening platform, said Daniel O’Day, President and CEO of Roche Molecular Diagnostics. Together, the cobas s 401 instrument and the cobas TaqScreen MPX Test represent a significant step forward in blood center automation and improved safety for patients receiving donated blood.


The decision was made following the JRC’s extensive in-house evaluation of competitor systems.

The cobas s 401 instrument and cobas TaqScreen MPX Test will, in 2008, replace the Roche AmpliNAT multiplex test that has been in routine use in the three JRC NAT testing centers since 1999. The cobas s 401 instrument fully integrates and automates the real-time PCR sample preparation, amplification and detection steps, greatly increasing laboratory efficiency and reducing the chance for human error that can occur with more manual systems. The cobas TaqScreen MPX Test, used on both the cobas s 401 instrument and modular cobas s 201 system, uses real-time PCR to detect HIV-1 Groups M & O, HIV-2 and Hepatitis B and C viruses. Since being launched in July 2007, the cobas s 201 system and cobas TaqScreen MPX Test, ideal for low to medium volume NAT testing, has been placed into over 60 blood screening laboratories worldwide.

About the Japanese Red Cross Society Blood Program

In addition to its many activities, the Japanese Red Cross Society, in cooperation with the national government and local authorities, promotes a nation-wide blood donation movement to ensure a continuous supply of the blood products that are essential for medical treatment. The agency was one of the first blood centers in the world to implement nucleic acid screening when it adopted Roche’s early multiplex test on a trial basis in 1997. Roche systems have been used exclusively in Japan since 1999. For more information about the Japanese Red Cross Society Blood Program, please visit

About Roche

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of the world’s leading research-focused healthcare groups in the fields of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. As the world’s biggest biotech company and an innovator of products and services for the early detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, the Group contributes on a broad range of fronts to improving people’s health and quality of life. Roche is the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics and drugs for cancer and transplantation, a market leader in virology and active in other major therapeutic areas such as autoimmune diseases, inflammation, metabolism and central nervous system. In 2006 sales by the Pharmaceuticals Division totaled 33.3 billion Swiss francs, and the Diagnostics Division posted sales of 8.7 billion Swiss francs. Roche employs roughly 75,000 worldwide and has R&D agreements and strategic alliances with numerous partners, including majority ownership interests in Genentech and Chugai. Roche’s Diagnostics Division offers a uniquely broad product portfolio and supplies a wide array of innovative testing products and services to researchers, physicians, patients, hospitals and laboratories world-wide. For further information, please visit our website at


All trademarks used or mentioned in this release are legally protected by law.