BIOASTER receives $885K grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop Onchocerciasis advanced rapid diagnostic with Mologic Ltd

Lyon, January 07th, 2020

BIOASTER, the French Technology Research Institute for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, today announced it has received a grant in the field of diagnosis of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The goal of the project is to develop advanced rapid diagnostics for Onchocerciasis, commonly known as “River Blindness”, one of the ten infections prioritised by the 2012 London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases and the World Health Organization for elimination by 2020.

Onchocerciasis is a debilitating disease caused by the parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus transmitted to humans through exposure to repeated bites of infected blackflies mainly in sub-Saharan Africa where 26 million people are infected and 200 million people are at risk of contracting the disease. Currently, Onchocerciasis elimination programs rely primarily on Mass Drug Administration (MDA) of Ivermectin to eliminate transmission of O. volvulus, the causative agent of the disease. A field appropriate rapid diagnostic test with high enough performance to map onchocerciasis for elimination, and determine when countries can stop MDA, is urgently needed to eliminate transmission of this devastating disease in low-income countries.

The primary outcome of the $885k project is to develop and clinically evaluate a test prototype for the detection of O. volvulus antibodies in human blood with high specificity, through a strategic partnership with Mologic Ltd, a UK-based company developing high performance, next-generation lateral flow and rapid diagnostic technologies. BIOASTER will develop innovative recombinant antigens and engineered anti-IgG4 antibodies and will have access to Mologic’s high sensitivity lateral flow technology through the Company’s Centre for Advanced Rapid Diagnostics (CARD), which will allow for the deployment of an easy to use test at the point of need for the very first time, thus negating the requirement for laboratory tests.

“We are honored to become a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grantee for wet lab activities on such a key issue. We are proud to work on this ambitious collaborative project and to accelerate the emergence of new diagnostics solutions to fight against tropical infectious diseases. Researchers at BIOASTER are fully committed to delivering innovative results for the benefit of population and patients.” says Nathalie Garçon, CEO and CSO BIOASTER

Dr Joe Fitchett, Medical Director, Mologic comments: “We are pleased to be working with BIOASTER on this important project and to apply our technology and expertise. Together, we will create a simple and sensitive rapid diagnostic for Onchocerciasis for use at the point of need. This will be the first of multiple projects in partnership with BIOASTER for epidemics and neglected diseases.”