The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded a potential $16.6 million contract to Orasure Technologies to develop a Zika virus test that will work to show results within 30 minutes and can be conducted at a doctor’s office.
HHS said Tuesday OraSure will design its lateral flow serological test to look for Zika antibodies in drops of blood to detect if someone has contracted the virus since many infected people do not develop clinical symptoms.
The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority within HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response will issue funds through a three-year period to help commercialize OraSure’s product, HHS added.
“Pregnant women and others at risk who are recommended for Zika testing need accurate diagnostic tests that provide results quickly to guide decisions about their treatment,” Richard Hatchett, BARDA acting director.
The contract has a base value of $7 million and BARDA has the option to fund continued work through 2022, HHS noted.
OraSure could request for an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration during the development of the company’s diagnostic test.
BARDA also funds other Zika diagnostic tests such as DiaSorin Group and InBios‘ serological tests and Hologic‘s molecular test for blood banks, HHS said.
HHS reprogrammed $374 million to aid domestic Zika response and preparedness efforts and BARDA received $85 million of the reprogrammed funds.
BARDA has obligated more than $50 million to help private sector partners develop Zika vaccines, diagnostics, blood screening tests and pathogen reduction technologies.