NEW YORK – Kephera Diagnostics said on Monday that it has been awarded a $600,000 National Institutes of Health grant to develop a point-of-care test for neurocysticercosis.
The Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant is from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and will go toward development of a test to detect an infection of the central nervous system with the larval form of the pork tapeworm, Taenia solium. Cysticercosis results when the tapeworm's eggs are ingested. The eggs hatch into larvae, which then move to the central nervous system and encyst in the brain, resulting in neurocysticercosis, which can be incapacitating or fatal if left untreated.
Framingham, Massachusetts-based Kephera's tests is intended to be used to differentiate neurocysticercosis from other causes of seizures in patients who present with symptoms similar to epilepsy, it said. Laboratory tests are available for T. solium infection, but Kephera's would be the first point-of-care test for the condition, according to the firm.
The new funding follows a $300,000 National Cancer Institute grant announced in September by Kephera to develop a test for liver fluke infection. In July, the company said it received $594,000 from the NIH to develop a test to help determine whether a patient may be cured of Chagas disease.