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Epistem, Biosurfit Developing HCV Assays as Part of €6M EC Consortium

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – UK biotech firm Epistem said today that it has received €1.5 million ($2 million) from the European Commission to develop point-of-care diagnostic tests for Hepatitis C as part of a €6 million, international project called the PoC HCV consortium.

The consortium aims to develop integrated genetic and protein biomarker tests for use in treating and monitoring HCV patients, as well as in clinical research.

Portuguese firm Biosurfit also will contribute to the test development part of the program, and Swedish bioinformatics software developer Qlucore will provide novel tools and algorithms for bed-side analysis.

The PoC HCV consortium is being coordinated by France's INSERM (National Institute of Health and Medical Research). It was not immediately clear how much, if any, of the project funding will go to Qlucore and Biosurfit.

According to the EC's website, the consortium will focus on two main problems: addressing HCV in resource-poor countries that may benefit from conventional treatment, and trying to limit the cost of treating HCV globally, particularly in regions where new therapies are expected to significantly increase healthcare costs.

According to the EC, predictive biomarkers have been identified in previous research that are ready to be implemented that will improve HCV management problems, such as making treatment decisions and monitoring therapeutic response.

Epistem will use the funding to develop a number of tests to be used on its Genedrive hand-held PCR platform. These assays will detect and genotype the HCV virus, ascertain patient genotype to select which patients will respond to treatment with pegylated-interferon/ribavirin therapy, and measure viral load to monitor patient treatments.

Epistem said that its Genedrive is easy to use and it provides next-generation point-of-care genotype analysis at low cost within 30 minutes.