Diagnostics company, Cepheid Inc. (CA, USA), has been awarded a $3.3 million grant co-financed by the Paul G Allen Family Foundation (WA, USA) and the Bill and Gates Foundation (WA, USA), for the development of its Xpert® Ebola test.
The new device, which will run on the company’s GeneXpert® molecular diagnostic system, will reportedly have the ability to detect Ebola in an hour or less using saliva or a drop of blood, and will essentially provide a safer and more efficient approach to Ebola diagnosis.
Currently the majority of Ebola tests involve the collection of a blood sample from the patient, which is then sent to a specialized laboratory for testing. The time taken from collection of the sample to receipt of the results typically takes several days, although this can be further drawn out by additional complications, such as diagnostic companies refusing to accept samples potentially infected with the Ebola virus.
Contrary to the classically used Ebola diagnostic devices, the Xpert® Ebola test is envisioned to enable healthcare workers to diagnose Ebola on site, at the treatment centers. In addition, the device will reportedly only require a finger prick or swab of saliva – a safer method than drawing blood with a needle – and it will be equipped with the ability to run several tests at once, thereby representing a more efficient model.
Commenting on the Xpert® Ebola test, John Bishop, Cepheid’s Chairman and CEO, said: “While we are all hopeful that the Ebola epidemic dissipates quickly, we welcome the opportunity to develop an accurate, rapid and easy-to-use test with the potential to strengthen the arsenal of tools being deployed to address the current situation.”
According to a press release from Cepheid, in addition to Xpert Ebola, Cepheid and the Gates Foundation are evaluating deployment of Cepheid’s RemoteXpert® cloud-based monitoring software, which is in the process of being implemented for TB testing on a pilot basis in South Africa and India. The company envisages that RemoteXpert® could enable authorized agencies to access real-time testing activity and geopositioned Ebola test results for the first time, which will make it possible to track the spread of the virus and, in turn, the effectiveness of ongoing efforts to contain it.