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Paul G. Allen Ebola Program Awards $6.9M for Ebola Diagnostics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The Paul G. Allen Ebola Program today announced it has awarded three grants totaling $6.9 million to fund the development of new diagnostic tools.

In total, the program awarded seven grants totaling $11 million to address inadequacies in infrastructure, data coordination, and diagnostics.

As part of the funding, Chembio Diagnostics received a $2.1 million grant award to develop a multiplex, antibody-based diagnostic test for several life-threatening fever-inducing illnesses; Becton Dickinson landed $2.8 million to develop a rapid diagnostic for Ebola and other sources of fever; and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) received $2 million to coordinate feasibility studies of new diagnostic tests in their settings of intended use, as well as provide access to reagents and clinical samples for those studies.

"The West Africa Ebola outbreak exposed significant gaps in the world's ability to effectively contain emerging infectious diseases," Barbara Bennett, COO of Vulcan, the company running the grant program, said in a statement. "Point-of-care diagnostics were a clear gap in the early days of the Ebola response. While the world cannot stop every outbreak, we can apply innovative solutions to more effectively fill the gaps to ensure that the next outbreak doesn’t become the next epidemic."

Chembio's 12-month grant will enable the firm to develop a multiplex, point-of-care assay to detect malaria, dengue fever, Ebola virus, Lassa virus, Marburg virus, and chikungunya virus using its antibody-based Dual Path Platform (DPP) technology.

These diseases present with a high-grade fever and misdiagnosis, and mistreatment can lead to high morbidity and mortality. They are often difficult to identify because they have similar symptoms, so quick, accurate diagnostics could greatly help clinicians properly treat patients, Chembio said.

The Medford, New York-based company said that its DPP Fever Panel Assay will be designed include a quality control test band and seven test bands with specific antibodies to detect the different pathogens, including multiple serotypes of the same pathogen, for example, the Zaire, Sudan, and Bundibugyo strains of Ebola. Chembio Chief Science and Technology Officer Javan Esfandiari added that the test results would be run and read out on a small, battery-operated digital device.