Project nominated for “Saving Lives at Birth” Award

Tracy Parish

18 July, 2012

The CD4 Test

A Burnet Institute project using our point-of-care (POC) CD4 Test has been nominated for an award through the Grand Challenges “Saving Lives at Birth” initiative, jointly funded by USAID, the Government of Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).

Burnet’s CD4 Test was one of 15 innovations nominated for the award from more than 500 applications received worldwide.

The project, led by Associate Professor Stanley Luchters from the Institute’s Centre for International Health, proposed to validate the novel POC CD4 Test among HIV-infected pregnant women in Sub-Saharan Africa. The test is essential in choosing the appropriate interventions both for their own health and to prevent transmission of HIV to their infants.

Burnet has recently licensed the CD4 Test to Omega Diagnostics Group PLC for manufacture and sale as VISITECT® CD4 throughout the developing world.

Associate Professor Luchters said that in Southern Africa nearly half of maternal mortality and one third of infant mortality can be attributed to HIV.

“Assessing CD4 count at the first antenatal visit for HIV-infected pregnant women using the Burnet test would allow same day initiation of the most appropriate lifesaving antiretroviral intervention,” he said.

“This will not only benefit the mother’s health but prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus, substantially reducing maternal and child deaths.”

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 CD4 tests cost more than US$10, and most require trained health workers and highly trained technicians to perform the tests on expensive equipment requiring power, clean water and regular maintenance.

Three health facilities in Kenya and South Africa will take part in this project where HIV-infected women will be asked to participate during their antenatal visits.

The CD4 Test developer and Burnet Institute Deputy Director, Associate Professor David Anderson said that after six years of development in the lab it’s pleasing to see Burnet is leading this “Saving Lives at Birth” project as well.

“Maternal HIV/AIDS and mother-to-child transmission of HIV remain among the worst inequities in health worldwide,” Associate Professor Anderson said.

“It is very rewarding to see the test being used in the populations that are most at need, and exactly the target of the Burnet’s mission.”

About Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development Saving Lives at Birth – a partnership leveraging the collective resources of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Government of Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) - recognises that solving our greatest global health issues is a long-term effort. Through Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development, innovations that demonstrated the most promising solutions to address the causes of maternal and newborn deaths in hard to reach, low-resource settings were nominated for award. The nominees will now enter into final negotiations before awards can be issued.

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Associate Professor David Anderson

Deputy Director (Partnerships), Burnet Institute; Chief Scientific Officer, Burnet Diagnostics Initiative




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