The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced backing of a rapid antigen Ebola test with an award to OraSure Technologies, Inc. worth up to $10,364,225.
The award was made via a Broad Agency Announcement for “Advanced Research and Development of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Medical Countermeasures for BARDA”.
To assist doctors in diagnosing Ebola virus disease quickly, OraSure Technologies will pursue further development of an Ebola virus diagnostic test for use in a doctor’s office, hospital, clinic, or field setting that will provide results within 20 minutes.
“Fast and inexpensive point-of-care diagnostics will improve our ability to control Ebola virus disease outbreaks,” said Robin Robinson, Ph.D., director of ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), which will oversee this development program for HHS. “Faster diagnosis of Ebola virus infections allows for more immediate treatment and an earlier response to protect public health worldwide.”
Diagnosing Ebola virus infections quickly in resource-poor areas would enable health care providers to isolate and provide necessary treatment and supportive care to patients suffering from Ebola. Quickly isolating patients helps limit the spread of the disease. Emerging evidence has shown that early initiation of supportive care improves outcomes for patients suffering from Ebola virus disease.
The development of this simple, low-cost, lateral-flow test, called the OraQuick rapid Ebola antigen test, will take place under an initial $1.8 million contract with OraSure Technologies. Contract options may bring the value up to $10,364,225.
In addition, OraSure will evaluate whether the test can be used in the post-mortem analysis of oral fluids. During the current epidemic, people died before Ebola virus infections could be confirmed, yet the bodies of people infected with Ebola virus would have remained highly infectious. A simple, rapid test that could determine disease status quickly from the body’s oral fluids would facilitate infection control efforts and support the appropriate handling of remains infected with the Ebola virus.
The OraQuick rapid Ebola antigen test is the first point-of-care Ebola virus testing device to receive BARDA support. To help the United States prepare for and control Ebola virus disease outbreaks, BARDA also is supporting development of vaccines to prevent Ebola virus infections and therapeutic drugs to treat the disease.
The contract was awarded under Solicitation Number: BAA-13-100-SOL-00013