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One Silicon Valley firm will cash in on MRSA scare

But you wannabe day-traders are too late. The stock of Sunnyvale-based Cepheid has already more than doubled in the past six months.

But you wannabe day-traders are too late. The stock of Sunnyvale-based Cepheid has already more than doubled in the past six months. Cepheid makes gene-based testing systems for whatever nasty germ is fearsome right now. Their technology uses digital analysis of biochemical componets of micro-organisms as each germ has its own unqiue genetic patterns. Cepheid produces a system of computers and biochemistry and maintains the system for any agency or organization that wants the testing on site.

Remember when bird flu was going to decimate the featherless biped population? Well, Cepheid had a contract with the federal government for gene-based bird flu testing. That contract ran out last month. Now the current Cepheid system can produce a test result for MRSA is 72 minutes! And they got FDA approval last spring, so Cepheid is ready to roll.

And there'll be plenty of MRSA to detect. You and I may have some MRSA germs about our person right now. Don't touch me, you could be infectious! As many as one-third of Americans may carry the MRSA bacterium. And public health officials may downplay the danger by comparing it to other lurking germs that can kill, but the fact that hospitals and schools are usual sources of MRSA infection will keep concern high for awhile. Just this week a school guard in Newark was diagnosed with MRSA. That kind of media-attracting headline will keep the MRSA pot boiling. There'll be the first media star infected stories (Britney perhaps?), the youngest victim stories, professional athletes who survived stories (the St. Louis Rams had a mini-epidemic among players a few years ago), etc. etc. Soon the 436 people running for President will each have an anti-MRSA platform position. Suspect each will call for a War on MRSA. I bet none of them suggests putting Homeland Security in charge, either.

If you tend toward hypocondria, heed my warning not to Google MRSA. Now we can watch the political reaction. As I mentioned Illinois has already legislated for some mandatory hospital testing. Cepheid can now just let the headlines roll and answer their emails. They must have a checklist of diseases that have been suggested as potential dangers as global warming progresses. Cepheid has some experience in this nexus of politics and public health fear. They had a testing system for anthrax that was used across the U.S. Postal System. Their current products are described here.