Promoting global access to innovative tests for respiratory disease

Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding development of new tests for diagnosing respiratory diseases in developing and emerging economies. The effort is unfolding under the auspices of a global diagnostics alliance called FIND.

Laboratory assistant
© AlexRaths

Headquartered in Geneva, FIND is investing a total of just over EUR 19 million in Biomeme of the US, South Korean-based Bioneer, Sweden’s Qlife, and SD Biosensor also of South Korea. FIND says the four companies were selected from a total of 47 that answered an “open call for proposals for accelerating development, manufacturing, and launch of affordable point-of-care molecular diagnostic platforms that can detect multiple pathogens that cause diseases, including COVID-19, in low- and middle-income countries.”

The BMBF is supporting this through KfW and other donors within the context of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT) program, which FIND co-leads. The BMBF says one of the main challenges the four companies face is developing platforms that can identify multiple target pathogens in a single test. The ultimate objective is to simplify diagnosis of respiratory diseases with platforms that can precisely differentiate between the pathogens that cause SARS-CoV-2, influenza, or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections. The BMBF says it will provide funding for one year and expects the platforms to be ready for use at the start of 2023.

According to FIND, Biomeme and Qlife are developing platforms for primary care settings, particularly those in remote regions. The organization says both include highly portable, easy-to-use instruments. While the Biomeme automated sample-to-answer platform has the potential to identify up to 27 target pathogens in a single-test, the Qlife platform promises to run other types of assays, such as immunoassays and chemistry assays, using the same instrument.

FIND meanwhile reports that SD Biosensor and Bioneer are developing molecular diagnostics systems suitable for use by support care workers, home aides, hospital orderlies, home care support workers, health care assistants and health assistants. Both would enable detection of multiple diseases in a single test, with plans to validate assays for tuberculosis on the same platform.

The export initiative for the German health care industry, HEALTH MADE IN GERMANY, is the place to find out more about the BMBF’s work with FIND, which has regional hubs in India, Kenya, South Africa, and Vietnam. At the same time the export initiative can provide information on the German government’s support of the ACT program and what it means for companies from Germany and abroad.