NIH keeps Corgenix Ebola Dx project running with new funding

Ebola virus under an electron microscope--Courtesy of CDC

The National Institutes of Health is giving Corgenix nearly $3 million to continue work on a rapid diagnostic test for Ebola, one of the world's most contagious and deadly viruses with a fatality rate that can reach 90%.

The Denver-based company will get the $2.9 million grant over three years, money that builds on an earlier award. It's a project that's also highly collaborative, as Corgenix will continue to team up on the project with members of the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium, an academic and industry group headed by Tulane University that also relies, in part, on NIH funding. They've additionally worked on diagnosing other viral hemorrhagic fevers such as the Lassa and Marburg viruses.

Public health officials first spotted Ebola in 1976, a virus native to Africa that can cause a kind of hemorrhagic fever. As Corgenix describes, the virus manifests in the form of heavy bleeding and coagulation abnormalities and death can come within days. A new outbreak of the virus sprang out of Guinea and has spread into Liberia and Sierra Leone, Corgenix noted.

Outbreaks aren't a regular occurrence, the company explained, but they do happen. With that in mind, officials worry about the public health and bioterror risks Ebola present. That's because there's no cure or viable drugs to treat Ebola, which gets transmitted through infected blood or bodily fluids. As a result, the Corgenix project will be closely watched, because it will hopefully lead to a point-of-care diagnostic test kit that could be used in the clinic or a field lab and identify Ebola infection in a matter of minutes. By doing so, health officials will gain the ability to be more proactive in containing any outbreaks.

"This grant comes at a critical time for Ebola and related virus research," Corgenix President and CEO Douglass Simpson said in a statement. "Ebola virus outbreaks are relatively uncommon, but when they do occur, they are deadly and can spread rapidly."

Corgenix, meanwhile, could be a diagnostics company very much in transition. Earlier this year, it revealed that it was exploring a number of options to boost shareholder value in 2014. The possibilities for Corgenix include selling itself in an M&A deal, a joint venture or a partnership. In fiscal 2013, Corgenix booked just over $10 million in revenues, a 9.7% jump over the previous year.

- read the release

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