Cepheid today announced that it has been awarded a grant of up to $3.3 million co-financed by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop Xpert Ebola, a rapid test that could be run on Cepheid’s installed base of more than 3,500 GeneXpert Systems in developing countries, including more than 1,000 in Africa.
The test is expected to be offered on an emergency use only basis.
“While we are all hopeful that the Ebola epidemic dissipates quickly, we welcome the opportunity to develop an accurate, rapid and easy-to-use test with the potential to strengthen the arsenal of tools being deployed to address the current situation,” said John Bishop, Cepheid’s Chairman and CEO.
The company states that it is well positioned to respond quickly to the current crisis, leveraging their significant investments in development of ultrasensitive HIV and TB detection technologies, and borrowing on previous experience with an Ebola project to expedite delivery of the initial prototype and emergency use only product.
“We expect this technology to facilitate high throughput testing requirements of Ebola Treatment Units, as well as deployment of mobile laboratories for field surveillance,” said David Persing, MD, PhD, Cepheid’s Chief Medical and Technology Officer.
In addition to Xpert Ebola, Cepheid and the Gates Foundation are evaluating deployment of Cepheid’s RemoteXpert cloud-based monitoring software, currently implemented for TB testing on a pilot basis in South Africa and India. In the pilot phase, RemoteXpert has collected real-time data streams from nearly 2.5 million cases being evaluated for tuberculosis and drug resistance. RemoteXpert could enable authorized agencies, for the first time, to access real-time testing activity and geopositioned Ebola test results in order to track the spread of the virus and the effectiveness of ongoing efforts to contain it.
A more comprehensive view of the test’s features will be available as the project progresses, but Cepheid currently expects the sample type for Xpert Ebola to be an oral swab or capillary whole blood specimen in order to avoid needle exposure and venipuncture.
Source: Cepheid press release, adapted. Xpert® and GeneXpert® are registered, protected terms of Cepheid.