Chembio to Develop Tests for Leishmaniasis and Leprosy

Chembio Diagnostic Systems, of Medford, NY, is teaming up with the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) to develop rapid diagnostic tests for two neglected diseases, Leishmaniasis and Leprosy. Chembio will develop the tests using its Dual Path Platform (DPP) technology, for which it was awarded a U.S. patent in March, and incorporating IDRI proprietary antigens. A partnership seemed logical after the DPP technology demonstrated superior sensitivity on samples from patients with these diseases, in preliminary studies conducted during the first quarter of 2007.

Chembio’s main focus until now has been rapid tests for HIV. But the company believes DPP, which is thought to offer significant advantages over single-path tests, has applications well beyond HIV, for additional infectious and other diseases. For more on how DPP works, watch this video.

The joint R&D efforts with IDRI will be partially paid for by the National Institutes of Heath and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which provide funds to the research institute for the development of vaccines and diagnostics for leishmaniasis; the American Leprosy Mission provides IDRI with funds for similar activities in leprosy.

The expectation is that some prototype tests will be completed sometime later this year, at which point Chembio and IDRI will start looking for distribution partners. According to a press release issued by Chembio, the leishmania parasite affects millions of people worldwide, and there are approximately one million new leprosy cases reported each year.

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