Chembio Earns Grant, Signs Diagnostics Deal with German Firm
Fresh off winning a grant to develop a point-of-care diagnostic test to identify febrile diseases from a single drop of blood, Medford, N.Y.-based Chembio Diagnostics has signed an agreement with Berlin, Germany’s opTricon, a developer of mobile analysis devices for rapid diagnostic tests.
Under the agreement, Chembio will launch the DPP micro reader, a point-of-care instrument, to help in the detection of sexually transmitted diseases, certain febrile diseases and a specific form of cancer.
Chembio chief science and technology officer Javan Esfandiari says the company intends to combine the micro reader with assays currently in development. One of these assays is being developed with help from a 12-month, $2.1 million grant from the Paul G. Allen Ebola Program.
With the grant, Chembio will use its DPP technology to develop a first-to-market multiplex assay that can simultaneously detect malaria, Dengue, Ebola, Lassa, Marburg and Chikungunya from a single fingerstick blood sample. During the Ebola outbreak that struck West Africa last year, healthcare workers were quick to notice a problem. It is hard to differentiate between febrile diseases, as they have similar symptoms, as John Sperzel, Chembio’s chief executive, tells IDDM.
“The overwhelming majority that presented with the symptoms of Ebola didn’t have Ebola,” Sperzel explains. That forces clinicians to guess what subsequent test to run on the patient.
Having a single test for these febrile diseases can eliminate this guesswork, potentially saving lives. “We’re well on our way on the development of the assay,” Sperzel tells IDDM.
Sperzel adds that Chembio has other tests in the works, including one being developed with Perseus Science Group to detect traumatic brain injury. In addition, the company has regulatory approvals in Mexico and Brazil for a test to detect HIV and syphilis. It was first to market in both countries, says Sperzel, adding that the company expects to launch a clinical trial in the U.S. for the test during this quarter.
The company also is working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a DPP Ultra-Sensitive malaria assay, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop a DPP Ebola assay and a malaria-Ebola combination assay. It has another agreement to develop a DPP Dengue fever assay. — Elizabeth Hollis