Product News: Corgenix Research Group Announce NIH Grant to Advance Work on Ebola Rapid Diagnosis Test KitThree-year grant awarded following West Africa Ebola virus outbreak
Corgenix Medical Corporation, a worldwide developer and marketer of diagnostic test kits, has been awarded a three-year, $2.9 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to advance the development of an Ebola rapid diagnostic test kit. Collaborating with Corgenix on the program will be members of the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium (VHFC), a collaboration of academic and industry members headed by Tulane University and partially funded with support from the NIH.
The NIH phase II, R44 grant is a continuation of a previous two-year grant to develop special proteins for use in testing. It is the fifth major grant or contract awarded to Corgenix and its VHFC collaborative partners to combat dangerous viral hemorrhagic fevers, including Ebola, Lassa and Marburg viruses. Development of the Ebola test would enable rapid response to public health and bioterrorism threats posed by the deadly virus.
“This grant comes at a critical time for Ebola and related virus research,” said Douglass Simpson, Corgenix President and CEO. “Ebola virus outbreaks are relatively uncommon, but when they do occur, they are deadly and can spread rapidly. This latest outbreak demonstrates that point-of-care testing will be needed on a routine basis to diagnose or rule out both Ebola and Lassa in West Africa, now that Ebola is present in a Lassa endemic region.”
The grant enables researchers to further develop efforts for a point-of-care test kit that can be used in any clinical or field lab to determine in a matter of minutes if a patient is infected with Ebola. Corgenix and the VHFC have already developed and CE marked the ReLASV® rapid test for the Lassa fever virus.
“Ebola is clearly a problem that’s not going away,” said Robert Garry, Ph.D., Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the Tulane University School of Medicine. “This grant allows us to build on our previous Ebola testing research, ultimately putting local and regional governments and healthcare workers in a much better position to identify and contain outbreaks with rapid diagnostic testing.”
Current testing for the Ebola virus requires special biohazard handling and sending test samples long distances to special labs – a process that takes several days. This results in a critical loss of time to diagnose, treat and help prevent the spread of the virus.
Ebola is indigenous to Africa and is one of the deadliest viruses on the planet, with mortality rates of between 50 and 90 percent. Ebola infection is characterized by bleeding and coagulation abnormalities and can kill within 10 days to two weeks. Ebola and other viral hemorrhagic fevers are difficult to diagnose because many of the early signs and symptoms resemble those of other infectious diseases such as typhoid and malaria.
The most recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa started in Guinea and then spread into Liberia and now into Sierra Leone. About the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium
The Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium was established in 2010 as a result of several multi-year grants and contracts awarded to Tulane University by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to support Tulane's ongoing efforts to treat and prevent Lassa fever. The goal of the Consortium is to understand mechanisms related to the human immune response to Lassa virus infection. Specifically, by understanding what parts of the virus are recognized by the immune system, scientists can better understand mechanisms of antibody-mediated protection or pathogenesis in humans with Lassa fever. Consortium efforts have focused on the development of new recombinant proteins for Lassa virus diagnostic products, which have shown to be extremely effective in clinical settings in Africa. This progress is allowing a transition of efforts towards instituting better treatment of affected individuals and ultimately prevention of Lassa fever altogether. The Consortium is a collaboration between Tulane, Scripps Research Institute, Harvard University/Broad, University of Texas Medical Branch, Autoimmune Technologies LLC, Corgenix Medical Corporation, Kenema Government Hospital (Sierra Leone), the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (Nigeria) Université de Lausanne (Switzerland), Zalgen Labs, LLC, and various other partners in West Africa. More information is available at www.vhfc.org
. Research detailed in this publication is supported by the National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R44AI088843. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
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