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Epistem Taps India's Xcelris to Help Evaluate POC MDx Platform

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Epistem and Xcelris said today that they are partnering to evaluate Epistem's PCR-based, point-of-care molecular testing device for the early detection of tuberculosis.

Epistem and Xcelris, an Indian genomics research and diagnostic testing firm, will evaluate Epistem's GeneDrive device as part of India's Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme, initiated in 1997 to ensure the rapid diagnosis and treatment of TB patients.

Citing statistics from the World Health Organization, Epistem said that India has the highest number of TB sufferers in the world. Each year about 2 million people in India come down with TB with about half of the cases fatal.

In April, Manchester, UK-based Epistem said that had begun collaborating with undisclosed clinical labs and companies in the UK and US to beta test GeneDrive, a fully integrated, endpoint PCR-based platform that weighs just over one pound and has a footprint similar to that of a tablet computer (PCR Insider, 4/7/11).

Featuring push-button operation and integrated data analysis, the device also uses a thin-walled consumable cartridge and fast thermal cycling technology that is capable of performing about 30 PCR cycles in as little as 17 minutes.

Epistem said that GeneDrive's size, speed, and low cost — the company has said it can manufacture an instrument for about $400 with a $0.50 consumable cartridge — makes it conducive to use in remote locations.

The company had not previously disclosed other potential tests for GeneDrive, but this week said that the device can also be used to detect the causative agent of Dengue fever and several sexually transmitted diseases.

The TB evaluation program with Xcelris will continue through this year. Financial and other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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