DaVita Kidney Care, a division of DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc. and a leading provider of kidney care services, today announced that DaVita Labs, the diagnostic laboratory servicing both dialysis organizations and physician practices, has implemented molecular diagnostic testing using technology from Roche Diagnostics.
This molecular diagnostic testing will allow DaVita Labs to be the first dialysis laboratory in the country to test for Hepatitis C (HCV) virus levels in the blood (viral load) using the COBAS Ampliprep/COBAS TaqMan HCV v.2 test from Roche. This DNA-based technology will enable DaVita Kidney Care to help nephrologists manage patients with chronic HCV in conjunction with clinical and laboratory markers of infection.
The test can be used to predict the probability of sustained virologic response (SVR) early during a course of antiviral therapy, and to assess a patient’s response to antiviral treatment.
“The Roche technology provides state-of-the-art capabilities that will allow our physicians to more rapidly monitor the status of HCV infection, and, in keeping with the latest Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations, determine the level of viremia,” said Jason Cline, vice president and general manager of DaVita Labs.
The HCV virus, which infects approximately 170 million people worldwide, is a serious public health problem and is referred to as the “silent epidemic” as many infected patients do not have symptoms and have not been diagnosed. The CDC recently expanded its screening recommendations to the medical community, prompting more aggressive efforts to proactively diagnose and treat HCV infection. New infections continue to occur, and currently between 3.2 and 4.1 million people in the United States are living with the HCV virus.
Among dialysis patients, where the prevalence of HCV infection is relatively high, the CDC recommends regular testing.
DaVita Labs will also evaluate viral load testing for Hepatitis B, HIV and cytomegalovirus – all of which are FDA-approved tests – on the Roche quantitative PCR platform.