Framingham, MA – April 17, 2019. Kephera Diagnostics has won a two-year, $599,658 SBIR grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, an agency of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to develop a new test for Lyme disease, the company announced today. The Phase I grant will allow the company to prove feasibility of its testing technology, after which it could pursue further funding from NIH for product development and clinical trials.
Lyme disease, a spirochetal infection transmitted by deer ticks, has become the most prevalent vector-borne disease in the United States, with approximately 300,000 cases each year according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Outside the U.S., Lyme is endemic in large parts of northern Europe and Asia. The economic cost of Lyme disease is estimated at over $1 billion per year in the U.S. alone. If untreated, Lyme disease can result in a variety of neurological, arthritic and cardiac impairments. Early diagnosis and treatment can halt progression of the disease, however. While the appearance of a bull’s eye rash is the hallmark symptom of Lyme disease, many patients do not show it. For those cases, current guidelines for diagnosing Lyme disease recommend a combination of laboratory tests. The grant to Kephera will allow the company to develop a new test which promises to improve both the accuracy and the turnaround time of Lyme testing. Kephera scientists will develop the test with collaborators at Massachusetts General Hospital and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, both of which carry out clinical studies and operate clinics where Lyme disease patients are diagnosed and treated.
“Lyme disease continues to pose a diagnostic challenge in the clinic,” said Dr. John Branda, Associate Director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Considering the increasing numbers of cases and the potential severity of this infection, it’s important that we work on developing tests to improve the speed and quality of diagnosis.”
“Receiving this grant award from the National Institutes of Health is a big step forward for us in our quest to develop a better diagnostic solution for Lyme disease” said Dr. Andrew Levin, Chief Executive Officer of Kephera Diagnostics and Principal Investigator under the grant. “This is a topic of great importance to us, situated as we are in the midst of a Lyme endemic region where we are constantly reminded of the impact of this disease. We hope to make a substantial contribution to public health and healthcare for affected patients through the development of this new test for Lyme.”
The grant awarded to Kephera Diagnostics is NIH Award No. 1R43AI142903.
About Kephera Diagnostics
Kephera Diagnostics is a startup that aims to address the public health challenges of global infectious diseases with new point of care assay technology. Our mission is to promote more effective and more affordable medical treatment through faster, point-of-care diagnosis. We collaborate with a global community of researchers to develop and translate new technologies into accessible products for clinical diagnostics and research applications. Kephera has recently been funded for development of new tests for several infectious diseases of global significance.
Andrew Levin, PhD
Chief Executive Officer and Scientific Director