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Corgenix and research partners to expand Ebola virus testing capabilities in Sierra Leone

An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa has prompted Corgenix Medical to extend the company’s existing viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) rapid test development to include the Ebola virus.

Corgenix has already developed and CE marked a rapid test for the Lassa fever virus, another member of the VHF group of viruses.

In collaboration with its research partners from the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium (VHFC), Corgenix recently completed a multi-year study conducted at the Kenema Government Hospital (KGH) in Kenema, Sierra Leone.

The clinical trial investigated the clinical utility of several VHFC diagnostic products, including Corgenix’ recently CE marked ReLASV antigen rapid test for Lassa virus. The VHFC is a collaboration of academic and industry members headed by Tulane University and partially funded with support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The March 2014 Ebola outbreak originated in Guinea, with suspected cases in neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia. This event has the added consequence of two high mortality VHFs in the same area of West Africa.

Current Ebola testing requires special biohazard handling, and samples are often sent out of West Africa for processing. This can result in delays of up to several days before diagnosis can be confirmed and treatment started.

The Corgenix ReLASV test is a rapid, highly accurate, 15-minute test that detects Lassa virus antigen in blood, leading to early acute-stage treatment, which is key to survival. ReLASV is currently being used on-site at KGH in Sierra Leone for Lassa fever testing and diagnosis.

Corgenix president and CEO Douglass Simpson noted that the company is expanding its rapid testing platform to Ebola with the intention of extending screening to patients using these advanced diagnostics.

"Due to the added risk to the population and health care workers, it will be important that health officials have the ability to screen not only for Lassa, but for Ebola, with a rapid test capable of being run in field hospitals in a format that works throughout West Africa," Simpson added.

In 2010, Corgenix was awarded an NIH grant to work with Tulane University, The Scripps Research Institute and Autoimmune Technologies for the development of new, rapid diagnostic tests for the Ebola and Marburg viruses.

Through this foundational grant and the VHFC partnership that includes Tulane University, Corgenix and its partners plan to continue to develop advanced testing products for Ebola, Marburg and other dangerous hemorrhagic fevers, which are also considered bioterrorism threats.

The research includes the development of testing capabilities that would pair Lassa and Ebola rapid detection kits for use in Sierra Leone and other West Africa locations.

VHFC Lassa diagnostic (ReLASV Test Kit) is CE marked for diagnostic use in EU and other international markets. It has not been cleared or approved for diagnostic use in the US by the FDA. VHFC Ebola products have not yet been cleared or approved for diagnostic use by any worldwide regulatory authority.