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National Institutes of Health awards grant for new point-of-care test for Chagas disease

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, an agency of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded a two-year, $599,316 SBIR grant to Kephera Diagnostics to develop a new test for Chagas disease, the company announced today.Under the SBIR grant program, this Phase I grant is aimed at demonstrating feasibility of the test, following which the company will be eligible to apply for second phase funding to complete product development. 
Chagas, a trypanosomal disease transmitted by an insect which is endemic throughout most of Latin America, is the most prevalent parasitic disease in the western hemisphere.Chagas infection can lead to a range of serious complications including fatal cardiomyopathy.The disease is estimated to account for economic losses over $7 billion/year, and has been named as a top public health priority by the World Health Organization.Existing tests have not proven as sensitive and specific as required for an accurate diagnosis, and many of the affected populations are located far from laboratories capable of running these tests.Supported by the grant, Kephera plans to develop a point-of-care test that will deliver a highly accurate result within 15 minutes in either a field or clinical setting, without need for a laboratory.The test is based on parasite components that were shown previously to yield high sensitivity and specificity in more complex laboratory test formats.Kephera scientists will develop the test with collaborators at Johns Hopkins University, who have been carrying out studies on Chagas patients in South America over many years.
“Chagas disease is a major public health problem in Latin America and is present but under-recognized elsewhere, including in the U.S.” said Dr Evan Bloch at Johns Hopkins University, who is collaborating with Kephera under the grant.“Better diagnostic methods continue to be needed, especially point-of-care assays for field use outside the laboratory”.
“We are very pleased to receive this grant award” said Dr. Andrew Levin, Chief Executive Officer of Kephera Diagnostics and Principal Investigator under the grant.“This funding will allow us to develop a test which could facilitate rapid diagnosis and lead to better healthcare for Chagas patients, furthering our company’s mission to improve diagnosis for emerging and neglected diseases”.
About Kephera Diagnostics
Kephera Diagnostics is a startup that aims to address the public health challenges of global infectious diseases with new point of care assay technology.Our mission is to promote more effective and more affordable medical treatment through faster, point-of-care diagnosis.We collaborate with a global community of researchers to develop and translate new technologies into accessible products for clinical diagnostics and research applications. Kephera has recently been funded for development of new tests for several infectious diseases of global significance.

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