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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

New blood test would provide fast results for medical care after anthrax attack

Date: September 23, 2013

Organization: MRIGlobal of Kansas City, Missouri

Funding: This contract provides $1.6 million in funding over 15 months and can be extended for up to a total of five years and $12 million

About this contract: BARDA will support development of a rapid blood test, called an assay for anthrax infection that can be used by mainstream health care laboratories following an anthrax attack and is the first such test to be supported by BARDA.

Diagnostic tests or assays play a critical role in the early and accurate detection of anthrax infection. With a rapid, accurate blood test, health care providers would be able to identify people who are ill as early as possible, provide the appropriate medical treatment to save lives, and minimize unnecessary use of medication or hospitalization.

If cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the test could fill this need and be used in labs in the affected area after an anthrax release was detected by routine bioterrorism surveillance and confirmed by state and local laboratories.

The development work funded under this program includes studies needed to apply for FDA approval of the test for use on a commercially available laboratory testing instrument, the ABI7500 Fast Dx, made by Life Technologies, Inc. of Carlsbad, Calif.

MRIGlobal and Life Technologies will collaborate in the development of this test. The ABI7500 Fast Dx is used in health care laboratories around the country for routine identification of bacteria and viruses that cause disease, such as influenza.

While the project focuses on developing the laboratory diagnostic test, once development is complete and the test is cleared by FDA, the company or the federal government could make test kits available to commercial healthcare laboratories in a public health emergency. Training and drills with health care laboratory personnel could be conducted on a regular basis using the test. 

If the contract is extended, MRIGlobal would expand development of the anthrax test for use with additional testing instruments, as well as design tests for other biothreats.

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  • This page last reviewed: April 28, 2017