GHIT Fund Invests in FIND and Fujifilm for Development of Innovative Rapid Diagnostic Tool for Tuberculosis
TOKYO, Sept. 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- The Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund announced today an investment of approximately 420 million yen (US$3.8 million) for a highly sensitive rapid diagnostic kit for tuberculosis (TB) known as TB-LAM, being developed by Japan's Fujifilm Corporation and Switzerland's Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tuberculosis is the 10th leading cause of death worldwide—1.7 million people died of tuberculosis worldwide in 2016, 95 percent of which were in low- and middle-income countries. For those living with HIV, which can worsen the symptoms of TB, early examination and treatment are essential.
The current and most widely available method for diagnosing Mycobacterium tuberculosis uses patients' sputum. However, TB diagnosis presents a challenge, particularly for people living with HIV, as some cannot produce sputum, resulting in untimely and inaccurate diagnoses.
Fujifilm Corporation and FIND's TB-LAM diagnostic tool, however, can overcome these challenges in diagnosing tuberculosis by using a patient's urine instead of their sputum. This breakthrough technology is also inexpensive, highly sensitive, and does not require large equipment or a power supply to operate, so it can be utilized in resource-limited settings in low- and middle-income countries.
"The WHO's target to reduce TB deaths by 95 percent and to cut new cases by 90 percent by 2035 is going to require an innovative, highly sensitive, rapid point-of-care diagnostic tool," said Dr. BT Slingsby, CEO of the GHIT Fund. "GHIT's investment in Fujifilm and FIND to develop the TB-LAM tuberculosis diagnostic is an important step toward reaching this target and potentially saving millions of lives around the world."
This partnership will conduct clinical evaluation in low- and middle-income countries to ensure recommendation from the WHO.
*All amounts are listed at the exchange rate of USD1 = JPY110.95, the approximate exchange rate on August 31, 2018.
Lipoarabinomannan (LAM) is an antigen that has been explored extensively in blood, urine and sputum as a biomarker for active TB detection. It has the advantage of being very stable and detectable in a wide diagnostic time window.
GHIT has invested approximately JPY 216M (US$1.9 million) for this partnership since 2015. The total investment is JPY 636M (US$5.7 million), including the newly awarded investment.
The first of its kind in Japan, the GHIT Fund is an international public-private partnership between the Government of Japan, multiple pharmaceutical companies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The GHIT Fund invests and manages a portfolio of development partnerships aimed at neglected diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases that afflict the world's poorest people. The GHIT Fund mobilizes Japanese pharmaceutical companies, academic and research organizations to engage in the effort to create new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics. For more information, please visit https://www.ghitfund.org.
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