U.K.'s Lumora joins malaria Dx development project

Diagnostics companies are increasingly in-demand in the developing world, challenged to concoct tests that detect diseases and viruses that are both effective and affordable. Lumora is the latest to take on the challenge. The U.K. molecular diagnostic company said it will work with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics to develop an assay for malaria, a disease that strikes millions of people in warmer climates around the world.

Neither side is disclosing financial details, other than that Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding the project. But a spokesperson told FierceMedicalDevices via email that each side will jointly contribute technologies to develop a rapid, high-throughput assay designed to be easy to use. What's more, the spokesperson said, the resulting platform will also be applicable to a broader menu of tests including HIV.

Malaria is caused by a parasite and spread by infected mosquitos. And it has been a struggle to eliminate because tests in the market are lacking sensitivity to detect malaria in its early stage. That's where the new alliance could contribute something new where others haven't. They're focused on developing such a diagnostic that could screen for parasitemia malaria infections that would otherwise be hidden or at very low levels. One recently unveiled test accomplishes this--a collaboration between the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics and Eichen Chemical in Japan, the announcement notes. But more would be better, and catching malaria earlier both makes a cure more likely to succeed and gives a wider berth for the success of vaccines candidates.

The arrangement represents a marriage between a for-profit company with an elite university pedigree and an international non-profit foundation, with an impressive group of supporters.

Lumora launched more than 10 years ago and is a 13-employee company spun out from the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge in the U.K., according to its website. Lumora has raised solid seed investment and Series A and B rounds, from investors including the University of Cambridge, Tate & Lyle Ventures and Catapult Venture Managers. It is perhaps best known for its BART (Bioluminescent Assay in Real Time) tests for Salmonella and Listeria, and Lumora will use it in the new collaboration to help develop a large-scale rapid malaria screening assay.

The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, or FIND, is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with operations in Kampala, Uganda, and New Delhi, India. Launched in 2003, FIND is focused on developing cutting-edge diagnostics for poor countries that are both affordable and easy to use. FIND also has some serious financial backers, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the governments of the Netherlands, the U.K., and the European Union; and the National Institutes of Health in the U.S.

- read the release

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