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HHS, Cohen Foundation Launch $10M Competition for New Lyme Disease Diagnostics

NEW YORK — The US Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday said that it has launched a $10 million competition to advance the development of diagnostics for Lyme disease.

The competition, called the LymeX Diagnostics Prize, is sponsored by the Lyme Innovation Accelerator, a partnership between HHS and the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation.

Under the first phase of the initiative, a judging panel composed of experts in vector-borne disease biology, diagnostic sciences, and other related fields will evaluate proposals for new methods to detect active Lyme disease infections in humans.

Up to 10 winners may be selected to receive equal amounts of the $1 million prize for the first phase of the competition. Winners of the first phase will be invited to participate in a second phase, which will involve prototyping and refining proposed diagnostics, HHS said.

Additional phases of the competition may follow development, focusing on test prototyping and validation, as well as readiness for regulatory submission and market entry. HHS said the ultimate goal of the LymeX Diagnostics Prize is to advance new diagnostics toward US Food and Drug Administration review.

"With climate change and other factors only increasing the geographic and seasonal distribution of ticks across the United States, there is an urgent need to accelerate innovation in Lyme disease diagnostics," Assistant Secretary of Health Admiral Rachel Levine said in a statement. "Through our LymeX public-private partnership, HHS and the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation are driving the next major innovations in Lyme disease diagnostics testing, ones that could significantly improve outcomes for patients."

HHS said that entrants in the first phase of the competition should submit detailed concepts and development plans by Aug. 8.