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FIND Takes Aim at Potential Disease Outbreak, Antimicrobial Resistance

NEW YORK (360Dx) – The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics  announced two initiatives aimed at improving diagnostic technologies for global health threats.

In one initiative announced on Monday, FIND is granting an award to Altona Diagnostics, Cepheid, and the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine to develop an automated Lassa virus assay.  Altona will develop the assay, which will be ported to a Flex cartridge system being developed by Cepheid for its GeneXpert platform.  The Bernhard Nocht Institute will evaluate the new system being developed at both its laboratory in Germany and in collaboration with partner institutions in Nigeria.

FIND declined to disclose the amount of the award.

The award is FIND's first in connection with its new Diagnostics for Epidemic Preparedness strategy aimed at diseases with the potential for an outbreak. The program pairs assay developers with instrument manufacturers to develop diagnostics and is focused on enabling the development of sustainable diagnostic test menus to address newly emerging pathogens. It also aims to improve diagnostic preparedness by "developing enhanced technical solutions, increasing response speed, and ensuring market sustainability despite the unpredictability of outbreak situations," FIND said in a statement.

Field demonstration studies for the new technology are slated to begin as early as the first quarter of 2019, it added.

Separately, FIND said on Tuesday it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the UK government's Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund for a three-year project focused on connectivity for diagnostics that can combat antimicrobial resistance.

The partners will develop tools and solutions to connect "vital information" from AMR-related diagnostic testing of patients. They also will work to ensure that the technologies developed will be accessible to national surveillance programs in low- and middle-income countries. Routine hospital and community data will be included, FIND said.

The partners will develop three workstreams — end-to-end data transfer and reporting from point-of-care testing for AMR surveillance; a mobile app to support the transfer of a range of rapid diagnostic test results for surveillance; and clinical decision aids via mobile phones linked to AMR surveillance systems.

Citing statistics from a 2016 UK government report, FIND said that 700,000 deaths globally are caused by drug-resistant pathogens each year. By 2050, that number is estimated to reach 10 million if no steps are taken to contain AMR.

The UK government also announced today that it is investing £5 million ($6.7 million) in FIND to support its work, in particular in efforts directed at the connectivity of POC diagnostics for AMR surveillance.

Launched in 2003, FIND is a global nonprofit tasked with accelerating the development, evaluation, and delivery of high-quality, affordable diagnostic tests for poverty-related diseases.