GE, Global Good Licensing Deal with Access Bio Brings Asymptomatic Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Tests to Market
Intellectual Ventures' Global Good Fund and GE (NYSE:GE), have signed a licensing agreement with the diagnostics technology company Access Bio (KOSDAQ:950130) to manufacture and distribute innovative diagnostic technologies that will help global health workers to more rapidly identify asymptomatic malaria in low-resource regions around the world. Identifying these low-level infections is considered critical to directing efforts towards malaria elimination.
"Significantly enhancing the sensitivity of malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) addresses gaps in rapid diagnostics that will bring us closer to eliminating the deadly disease in more and more regions around the world," said Maurizio Vecchione, Executive Vice President of Global Good & Research. "GE and Global Good have a shared commitment, along with Access Bio - as a commercialization partner - to enhance surveillance by public health teams to identify very low level malaria infections and realize the goal of eventually eradicating malaria entirely," he said.
The new diagnostics technologies for malaria detection were co-developed by a team of scientists and engineers at GE's Global Research Center in Upstate New York and Global Good. GE Ventures, GE's strategic arm to accelerate innovation and growth with partners, drove the commercialization model for the technology and the licensing agreement between GE, Global Good and Access Bio.
"The combination of RDTs and serology tests will fill an important gap in the tool-set for the eradication of malaria," said Joseph Suriano, Technical Discipline Leader at GE Global Research, leading GE's involvement in the program. "By being able to see if a population has been recently exposed to the malaria parasite with serology tests, we can then efficiently target the use of more rapid, highly sensitive tests and other anti-malarial interventions to act before outbreaks occur."
The agreement covers a highly-sensitive diagnostic test that identifies key proteins present in malaria, as well as Plasmodium lactate dehydrogenase (pLDH) RDT to detect malarial parasites. The agreement also includes technology to create malaria serology tests for Plasmodium antibodies which can measure a population's past exposure to the disease.
"With our commercialization experience and mass production facilities, Access Bio will be able to fully accommodate the commercialization of the highly sensitive RDTs at affordable prices. These tests will be the next generation of diagnostic testing and a big step towards the eradication of malaria," said Young Ho Choi, Chief Executive Officer of Access Bio.
According to the WHO, the volume of malaria RDT sales reported by manufacturers increased by almost 7 times from 2008 to 2014. The WHO also reports that nearly half of the world's population is at risk of malaria, and in 2015 alone, there were 429,000 deaths globally due to the disease; many of those deaths occur in the developing world, with 92% of those deaths taking place in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The WHO "Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030", a new 15-year framework for malaria control in all endemic countries, sets ambitious but achievable targets for 2030, including the elimination of malaria in at least 35 countries. Providing these new tests to these countries could enhance program effectiveness and empower local health systems to manage elimination programs more effectively.