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Australia's Atomo Secures $6M to Deploy its Rapid HIV Self-Diagnostic in Emerging Markets

The Global Health Investment Fund (GHIF) announced it has provided a $6 million loan to Atomo Diagnostics (Atomo) to support the scale-up of production operations and the expansion of commercial activities related to the award-winning AtomoRapid™ rapid diagnostic test (RDT) platform. Funds will also be used to commercialize a self-test solution for HIV and other infectious diseases.

Structured by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with founding support from Grand Challenges Canada, KfW and SIDA, GHIF focuses its investments in companies addressing key global health challenges. Curt LaBelle, MD, president of GHIF, said, "We are committed to financing initiatives and technologies that can significantly benefit global health. We believe the company's unique and innovative rapid test solutions support point-of-care testing across a variety of settings and have many exciting applications in both the developing world and developed markets."

As part of the collaborative funding agreement, GHIF and Atomo have made global access commitments to support and facilitate the launch and commercialization of Atomo's professional use and self-test products in low and middle-income countries to ensure that they achieve the greatest possible global impact.

Rapid testing in near patient settings is well established and enables quick diagnosis of many types of diseases and conditions using only a small drop of capillary blood from the fingertip. However, current generation lateral flow rapid test kits require multiple test components to perform a test, making them unsuited for use outside of the laboratory. User errors are common with these kits, even among clinicians, and they are generally considered unsuitable for self-testing. Atomo's RDT solutions replace these multi-component kits with a single integrated user-friendly device, designed specifically to simplify rapid testing and support consumer self-testing.

John Kelly, chief executive officer of Atomo, said, "Our mission has always been to provide the market with products that meet the needs of users.  We set out to develop a solution to obsolete the current generation 'bits in a box' test kit format, responsible for hundreds of thousands of errors and incorrect diagnoses globally each year. The investment from GHIF not only enables us to scale up our global health activities, it is also a clear endorsement of our innovative AtomoRapid™ technology as a preferred solution for rapid diagnostic testing."

AtomoRapid™ HIV for professional use was launched in early 2014 and has demonstrated high rates of user preference over existing RDT kits in the field. It has also won a number of prestigious international awards, including 'Best in Show' at the 2014 Medical Design Excellence Awards.

Dr. Linda-Gail Bekker, executive director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation and president of the International AIDS Society, said, "Young South Africans surveyed at the Foundation's mobile and youth clinics preferred self-testing with the Atomo product over traditional HIV test kits.  We urgently need innovation that will facilitate the UNAIDS ambitious goal of 90% of all HIV positive people knowing their status by 2020. GHIF's investment in Atomo has laid a foundation towards that 90% goal through HIV self-testing."

As well as supporting tests for HIV, malaria and Ebola, Atomo is finalizing development of an AtomoRapid™ Hepatitis C test on the platform. The company is currently also refining a combination test platform that can diagnose multiple diseases at once, as well as solutions with digital readers and e-health capabilities.

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