OraSure Technologies Inc. of Bethlehem received an additional $7.2 million in funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to further develop its OraQuick Ebola Rapid Antigen Test.
More than 30,000 people have been infected with Ebola since the latest outbreak in West Africa about a year and a half ago, resulting in more than 11,000 deaths. Ron Ticho, vice president of corporate communications for OraSure, said the company was tasked with working as quickly as possible to find an accurate test that would be fast and easy to use – particularly in remote areas of West Africa where the disease is most prevalent.
This year, OraSure received emergency-use approval for the test from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the test is being used in the field, he said.
The test, which can give a positive result in as little as four minutes, can work in temperatures of up to 100 degrees, needs no additional equipment and can be used through finger-sticks or the use of vein-drawn blood.
The $7.2 million is part of $10 million of an option funding contract the company was awarded. OraSure originally received $1.8 million to develop the test, with the remainder of the funding based on performance.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said it will buy about $1.5 million of the company’s OraQuick Ebola Rapid Antigen Test. The CDC purchase is expected to be fulfilled by the end of 2015.
“The populations affected by Ebola are large, and current testing methods severely limit testing capacity. As such, we believe that the OraQuick Rapid Ebola Test will be an important tool in containing and controlling the Ebola outbreak,” said Douglas A. Michels, president and CEO of OraSure Technologies.
OraSure is working to get formal clearance for the drug from the FDA so that the test can continue to be used after the emergency is declared over.