SomaLogic announces extension of funding for development of TB diagnostic test
SomaLogic, Inc., announced today that it has received additional funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to further develop and validate a SOMAmer-based tuberculosis (TB) biomarker assay for the accurate identification of persons with active TB. This new funding recognizes and extends the successful work completed under the initial TB biomarkers grant awarded to SomaLogic in January 2012 through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges in Global Health program.
“We are delighted that the Gates Foundation is as excited about our work to date as we have been,” said Urs Ochsner, head of the Infectious Diseases Research Group at SomaLogic and the Principal Investigator on the foundation grant. “Their decision to generously support the further development of our efforts will help us accelerate the realization of our shared goal of defining a low-cost, simple to use tool that can quickly and accurately diagnose TB in developing countries.” Dr. Ochsner will be presenting the current status of his team’s work at a free webinar on June 25, 2014 at 11:00 am EDT.
Under the initial 2012 Grand Challenges in Global Health grant, Ochsner and his colleagues developed SOMAmer® reagents (aptamer-based protein-binding molecules) against TB proteins and combined them with SOMAmer reagents that bound human host proteins that change during TB infection. These combined TB protein and human protein-based SOMAmer reagents will be the basis for evaluating the feasibility of a rapid and effective TB diagnostic test, under this new funding. In addition, the researchers will evaluate the new test in multiple biological sample types (serum, plasma and urine), all of which have shown significant promise in early experiments.
The most beneficial diagnostic TB test would need to measure both multiple TB bacterial proteins as well as the host proteins involved in the onset and progression of the disease. In addition, it must perform effectively in the conditions in the parts of the world where TB is most often rampant. SomaLogic’s breakthrough SOMAmer-based proteomic technology, based on protein-detecting reagents called “SOMAmers,” provides clear advantages over current reagents and methods used in TB tests in terms of accuracy, sensitivity, stability (e.g., no need for refrigeration), ease of production and cost: In short, all of the attributes necessary to develop a POC diagnostic device for remote and resource-poor areas of the world.
In line with the Gates Foundation’s Global Access policy, SomaLogic is committed to ensuring that the knowledge gained during this project is promptly and broadly disseminated, and that diagnostic tests that come from this work will be made available and accessible at a reasonable cost to the developing world.