Associate Professor David Anderson and Professor Suzanne Crowe AM at CD4 test launch at AIDS 2012 Conference
After six years of development in the laboratory, the Burnet Institute’s innovative point-of-care (POC) CD4 test has been officially launched at the AIDS 2012 Conference in Washington.
VISITECT® CD4, developed by Institute Deputy Director Associate Professor David Anderson, Co-Head of the Centre for Virology Professor Suzanne Crowe AM, and their team, is an affordable point-of-care (POC) test aimed at reaching HIV-positive patients around the world.
The test enables CD4+ T-cell levels to be determined quickly and conveniently using a finger-prick blood sample, enabling patients to receive life-saving antiretroviral treatment.
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.
“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.
Burnet has licensed the CD4 Test to Omega Diagnostics Group PLC for manufacture and sale as VISITECT® CD4 throughout the developing world.
“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,” Associate Professor Anderson said.
Photo: (L-R) Associate Professor David Anderson with Andrew Shepherd, CEO of Omega and Mike Iddon, Regional Sales Director of Omega.
Founder and Chief Executive of Omega Diagnostics, Andrew Shepherd, said this test overcomes the limitations associated with the traditional technique of flow cytometry.
“It offers a cost-effective means of obtaining immediate CD4 results, establishing when a patient should commence therapy will improve health and help to reduce transmission of the virus, benefitting the entire population,” Mr Shepherd said.
Aid agencies in Papua New Guinea, India and South Africa are likely to be the first to access the VISITECT® CD4 diagnostic.
A Burnet Institute project using the point-of-care (POC) CD4 Test has recently 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.
After 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 from Burnet and in collaboration with Professor Alan Landay from Rush University in Chicago and Professor Thomas Denny from Duke University in North Carolina, the affordable point-of-care (POC) CD4 Test will be available to those communities who need it most.