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Gates Foundation Awards BIOASTER, Mologic $885K for River Blindness Rapid Diagnostic

NEW YORK — French nonprofit foundation BIOASTER said this week that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded it $885,000 to develop an advanced rapid diagnostic for onchocerciasis, or river blindness.

The goal of the project is to develop and clinically evaluate a test prototype for detecting O. volvulus antibodies in blood with high specificity, BIOASTER, the French Technology Research Institute for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, said. It is partnering with Bedfordshire, UK-based Mologic to develop the diagnostic. BIOASTER will develop recombinant antigens and engineered anti-IgG4 antibodies and have access to Mologic's high-sensitivity lateral flow technology through the firm's Centre for Advanced Rapid Diagnostic.

In a statement, Mologic Medical Director Joe Fitchett said that the collaboration "will be the first of multiple projects in partnership with BIOASTER for epidemics and neglected diseases."