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Forsyth, Quanterix, and Beth Israel to Collaborate on TB Test

This article has been updated to clarify that the Forsyth Institute was the recipient of the Gates Foundation grant.

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Quanterix today announced a collaboration with the Forsyth Institute and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to develop a test for diagnosing active tuberculosis.

The Forsyth Institute was one of 10 recipients of awards announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation directed at research into the diagnosis of tuberculosis in low-resource settings.

Under the collaboration with Quanterix and Beth Israel, the partners will apply Quanterix's Single Molecule Array, or SiMoA, technology to validate novel low-abundance protein biomarkers that may be of use in identifying patients with active disease.

David Duffy, vice president of research at Cambridge, Mass.-based Quanterix, said in a statement that using a proteomics approach, the Forsyth Institute has identified a panel of M. tuberculosis markers present in patients with active tuberculosis. Conventional protein detection platforms cannot reliably detect these proteins in either urine or blood due to a lack of sensitivity, however.

The firm's SiMoA technology can improve the sensitivity of existing immunoassays by more than 1,000-fold, it said. "Applying our technology to evaluate biomarkers that could not otherwise be detected will allow us to address a variety of important unmet medical needs, including the development of an improved test for the diagnosis of active tuberculosis," Duffy said.

Financial and other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The research is being done in collaboration with Antonio Campos-Neto at Forsyth and Nira Pollock at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Forsyth's grant was one of 10 new grants that were announced by the Gates Foundation today.

The grants totaling $7.7 million support research into tuberculosis biomarkers and the development of a low-cost, easy-to-use tool for diagnosis of the disease in developing countries.

The new grant program, called Biomarkers for the Diagnosis of Tuberculosis, is part of the foundation's Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative. It is partnering in the new program with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, which will help monitor the grant portfolio and provide clinical tuberculosis samples from developing countries, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which is co-funding one of the grants.

The grant recipients are Todd Lowary at the University of Alberta in Canada to develop a library of chemically synthesized glycans; James Graham from the University of Louisville who will head a team to research adsorptive sample plates with chemically reacting coatings to capture, identify, and validate organic compounds from breath samples of tuberculosis patients; and Karen Dobos of Colorado State University, who along with colleagues will identify and validate protein signatures on exosomes.

Also, Dan Feldman of the University of Colorado at Boulder and collaborators are developing new modified DNA aptamer affinity reagents for detecting urine biomarkers of active tuberculosis; David Anderson at Macfarlane Burnet Institute in Australia will investigate "a unique aspect of the host antibody response that may better differentiate current and past tuberculosis infections," the Gates Foundation said; and John Belisle of Colorado State University, will research the use of small molecules created by the metabolic processes of host or pathogen cells, and lipids and fatty acids produced by the TB bacterium as biomarkers.

David Alland from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey is heading efforts at developing a method using paramagnetic nanoparticles conjugated with capture antibodies for extracting M. tubeculosis bacterium from sputum; and Urs Ochsner at SomaLogic is expanding and testing a library of low off-rate modified aptamers to identify protein biomarkers that indicate active tuberculosis.

Lastly, Robert Moritz and his colleagues at the Institute for Systems Biology and Seattle Biomed are identifying, quantifying, and validating a library of biomarker candidates for both active and latent tuberculosis by using ultra-sensitive targeted assay technology.

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