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Kephera Awarded $300K Grant to Develop Liver Fluke Infection Test

NEW YORK — Kephera Diagnostics said today that it has been awarded a $299,997 grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop a test for liver fluke infection.

The liver fluke is a parasitic worm that can infect humans who consume raw or undercooked freshwater fish, and primarily affects people in Asia. Long-term infection with the parasite is associated with a form of bile duct cancer called cholangiocarcinoma.

The Framingham, Massachusetts-based company said it will use the Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the NCI to develop a prototype test that measures parasite-derived immunological markers. The prototype will be evaluated in patients infected with the parasite, with samples being provided by collaborators at public health and research agencies in Vietnam. 

The test is expected to ultimately be available in laboratory and point-of-care formats.

"There is a clear need for such a test, based on the clinical and economic impact of infection worldwide, and this project is directly in line with Kephera's mission to address emerging and neglected infectious diseases with new and accessible diagnostics," Kephera CEO Andrew Levin said in a statement.

Earlier this year, Kephera received a $594,008 grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a test to help determine whether a patient may be cured of Chagas disease.