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PBD Biotech Gains £2.4M Investment for TB Blood Test Development

NEW YORK — PBD Biotech said Monday it gained investment funding of £2.4 million ($2.7 million) to support clinical trials for its Actiphage rapid screening test for latent tuberculosis infections and their potential to develop into serious disease.

Fund managers Mercia and the Foresight Group led a consortium that provided the funding, along with additional private investors and the University of Nottingham, through the European Union-backed Midlands Engine Investment Fund.

Nottingham, UK-based PBD Biotech said the test uses phage-induced lysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in a blood sample to allow molecular detection of the bacteria's DNA. Citing clinical study results from the Leicester Respiratory NIHR Biomedical Centre, PBD said research so far indicates the assay can be used to diagnose individuals with pulmonary TB and identify early-stage infections that could develop into disease. The assay provides results in less than one hour.

"By enabling rapid screening of a population for TB, Actiphage offers a breakthrough in disease prevention and treatment," PBD said. "Further trials of Actiphage are currently running in the UK, South Africa, and Zambia."

Data presented earlier this year at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases suggested that live M. tuberculosis could be detected in blood and that the Actiphage assay could identify patients at risk of active TB with higher specificity and similar sensitivity to the current gold standard, interferon-gamma release assays.