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Chembio Developing Rapid Hepatitis C Test

Medford-based Chembio Diagnostics and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics are developing a rapid diagnostic test for hepatitis C virus.

The foundation is working with three companies on HCV feasibility studies following a request for proposals in the first half of this year.

It plans to assess the outcomes of the feasibility studies in December 2018 and award one company further funding to develop their test.

This initiative is part of the Hepatitis C Elimination Through Access To Diagnostics project supported by a grant from Unitaid.

The foundation is also conducting pilot projects in six countries related to HCV testing and the impact of HCV diagnostics.

“Easy-to-use, accurate and affordable diagnostic tests are essential elements in the drive for HCV elimination,” Catharina Boehme, CEO of the foundation, said.

She said Chembio was selected based on the high sensitivity offered by its technology, “together with the company’s product development, manufacturing and distribution capabilities.”
According to the World Health Organization, 71 million people are living with hepatitis C, mostly in low- and middle-income countries.

The disease kills nearly 400,000 people annually, predominantly through cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, according to Chembio.

Despite this large death toll, the virus often is undetected, with 80 percent of people infected not aware of their condition, the firm said.

Chembio CEO John Sperzel said he is optimistic that his company’s technology “will serve as a robust platform for the point-of-care detection of HCV.”

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