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FIND, CEPI Partner to Evaluate Rapid Diagnostic Tests for Lassa Fever, Nipah

NEW YORK – FIND and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) announced on Thursday that they have partnered to seek out and evaluate rapid diagnostic tests for the viral diseases Nipah and Lassa. 

CEPI will provide up to $14.9 million for the four-year project and FIND researchers will determine the criteria for an optimal rapid diagnostic test for the diseases, the organizations said in a statement. FIND researchers will also select rapid point-of-care tests for Lassa and Nipah to test against its criteria, and successful tests will be licensed for widespread use. The project will run through January 2028.

Nipah, a zoonotic disease that can cause severe, rapidly progressive illness, including inflammation of the brain, has thus far been limited to South and Southeast Asia, the organizations said. Lassa fever is a rat-borne viral disease that causes acute hemorrhagic disease and has nonspecific initial signs and symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose early. It has been found primarily in West Africa. CEPI is funding multiple vaccine candidates for both diseases, and "as part of the vaccine development process, high quality diagnostic tests are essential, particularly for the optimal design and conduct of clinical trials," the organizations noted.

"High quality and rapid diagnostic tests for Nipah and Lassa are badly needed to be able to help patients as soon as they seek healthcare in the community and to help public health workers respond to outbreaks," In-Kyu Yoon, CEPI's executive director for research and development, said in a statement. "Fast disease detection means health workers can begin targeted treatment quickly and make referral to the next level of healthcare for better investigation and management if needed."