Corgenix is a member of the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium, a collaboration of academic and industry members headed by Tulane University. The consortium seeks to better understand, treat and prevent viral hemorrhagic diseases such as Ebola and Lassa fever, a similar but less deadly disease.
The latest grant from the NIH is a continuation of a previous two-year grant to develop special proteins for use in testing for Ebola. The diagnostic test allows physicians in African countries where Ebola strikes to quickly determine if a patient has Ebola and move that person into a quarantined environment. There is no cure for Ebola, but removing someone with Ebola from the population quickly can help prevent the spread of the highly contagious disease.
In addition, development of the Ebola test would enable quick response to public health and bioterrorism threats posed by the virus.
The grant comes at a critical time for Ebola research. An outbreak in West Africa has topped more than 528 cases, including 337 deaths as of June 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Ebola virus outbreaks are relatively uncommon, but when they do occur, they are deadly and can spread rapidly,´ said Douglass Simpson, Corgenix president and CEO in a statement. “This latest outbreak demonstrates that point-of-care testing will be needed on a routine basis to rule out both Ebola and Lassa in West Africa, now that Ebola is present in a Lassa-endemic region.”
Without rapid diagnostics, it can take a week or more for a physician to get lab results back confirming Ebola, as blood samples must be sent to Europe for testing. By the time that week is up, an Ebola patient will have passed away and possibly contaminated friends and family members, according to Simpson.