Cepheid Awarded Funding To Develop Xpert Ebola
Cepheid has been awarded a grant of up to $3.3 million co-financed by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop Xpert® Ebola, a rapid test that could be run on Cepheid's installed base of more than 3,500 GeneXpert® Systems in developing countries, including more than 1,000 in Africa. The test is expected to be offered on an emergency use only basis.
"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," said John Bishop, Cepheid's Chairman and CEO. "Cepheid has historically played a leading role in developing molecular diagnostics as an aid to infection control efforts, and the current Ebola crisis represents an extreme example of the need for sensitive, rapid, and easy to use diagnostics to inform patient management and isolation requirements."
"Cepheid is well positioned to respond quickly to this urgent imperative. We are leveraging our significant investments in development of ultrasensitive HIV and TB detection technologies, and are borrowing on previous experience with an Ebola project to expedite delivery of the initial prototype and emergency use only product," said David Persing, MD, PhD, Cepheid's Chief Medical and Technology Officer. "We expect this technology to facilitate high throughput testing requirements of Ebola Treatment Units, as well as deployment of mobile laboratories for field surveillance."
In addition to Xpert Ebola, Cepheid and the Gates Foundation are evaluating deployment of Cepheid's RemoteXpert cloud-based monitoring software, currently implemented for TB testing on a pilot basis in South Africa and India. In the pilot phase, RemoteXpert has collected real-time data streams from nearly 2.5 million cases being evaluated for tuberculosis and drug resistance. RemoteXpert could enable authorized agencies, for the first time, to access real-time testing activity and geopositioned Ebola test results in order to track the spread of the virus and the effectiveness of ongoing efforts to contain it.
A more comprehensive view of the test's features will be available as the project progresses, but Cepheid currently expects the sample type for Xpert Ebola to be an oral swab or capillary whole blood specimen in order to avoid needle exposure and venipuncture.