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Kephera Diagnostics Wins $300K NIH Grant for Chagas Disease Test

NEW YORK — Kephera Diagnostics said on Thursday that it has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a test to determine if an individual with Chagas disease has been cured.

Chagas disease is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and, if left untreated, can cause cardiac and intestinal complications including fatal cardiomyopathy.

According to Kephera, the disease is treated using two antimicrobial agents that are effective during acute infection but lose efficacy in chronic-stage disease. Treatment can also be lengthy and there is no currently available method to confirm whether a patient has been cured, slowing the development of new drugs for the disease.

With the new funding, Kephera aims to develop a test that will detect T. cruzi protein biomarkers in blood samples to indicate active disease. The test will be designed in both laboratory-based and point-of-care formats to address the needs of clinical and field settings, the Framingham, Massachusetts-based company said.

Kephera previously received two NIH grants worth $599,316 and $594,008, respectively, to develop a different test-of-cure for Chagas disease that detects T. cruzi antigens.