Sunday, June 15, 2008

HHS Awards Contracts for the Development of Faster Influenza Diagnostic Tests

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt today announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded $12.9 million for the development of low-cost influenza tests that can detect and differentiate seasonal human influenza viruses from avian influenza within three hours.

“The early detection of emerging pandemic influenza is critical to the nation’s pandemic response,” Secretary Leavitt said. “Early detection will aid in improving patient survival, overall health outcomes, and use of containment measures in the event of an influenza pandemic.”

Currently, the process for testing for avian influenza A (H5N1) can take up to 24 hours. These awards will support advanced development of laboratory influenza tests. These tests could be performed in a hospital or a commercial laboratory and would expedite the diagnosis of large numbers of patients. The expanded testing capability enhances the hospital laboratory-based pandemic and seasonal flu diagnostic capacity in the United States.

The recipients of the contract awards are: Nanogen, Inc, San Diego, Calif. and Meso Scale Diagnostics, LLC, Gaithersburg, Md., each for $6.5 million for initial phased development. The contracts provide for funding up to $10.4 million (Nanogen, Inc.) and $12.1 million (Meso Scale Diagnostics, LLC) for additional development up to three years.

The two contracts were awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in partnership with the Office of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. The recipients were selected from among nine responses to the request for proposal.

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