The Burnet Institute CD4 Test
For the first time, HIV patients in developing countries will have access to an affordable diagnostic test to determine if they should start life-saving antiretroviral drugs.
The Burnet Institute in Melbourne has announced a licensing agreement with Omega Diagnostics Group PLC, a global diagnostics organisation, to commercialise the point-of-care CD4 test for use worldwide, including aid agencies delivering frontline health services.
Omega has manufactured a first small-scale batch of prototype devices but reports there is still further work to do in terms of manufacturing scale-up and field trial evaluations before the first commercial sale of product. The company will host the commercial launch of the POC CD4 test at the 19th International AIDS Conference, AIDS 2012, to be held in Washington DC from 22-27 July.
Burnet Institute Deputy Director, Associate Professor David Anderson developed the low-cost test along with Co-head of Burnet’s Centre for Virology Professor Suzanne Crowe AM.
“According to UNAIDS, there are 15 million people who should be getting access to antiretroviral therapy but aren’t, just because they can’t get access to an affordable CD4 test in their communities,” Associate Professor Anderson said.
The CD4 test uses a small amount of blood from a finger-prick with results available after 40 minutes at a cost significantly less than the existing tests.
Current tests to determine CD4 cell count cost more than AUD $10. It requires trained health workers to collect venous blood and highly trained technicians to perform the tests on expensive equipment requiring power, clean water and regular maintenance.
“It’s easy to diagnose HIV but it’s hard to identify those who need therapy, this test will change that, providing cost effective testing for up to 33 million patients worldwide,” Associate Professor Anderson said.
Aid agencies in Papua New Guinea, India and South Africa are likely to be among the first to access the Burnet CD4 test.
This is the culmination of six years work by Associate Professor Anderson, Professor Crowe AM, Mary Garcia, Nadine Barnes, Simone Van de Waarsenburg, Jocelyn Diaz, Robyn Lloyd and Joy Liu at Burnet.
It was also developed in collaboration with Professor Alan Landay from Rush University in Chicago and Professor Thomas Denny from Duke University in North Carolina.