Testing for the AIDS virus could soon be simplified as an Ithaca-based molecular testing company earned a $1.5 million federal grant to continue development of their diagnostic device.
Rheonix, Inc. received the grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to complete the development of a fully automated self-confirming assay capable of simultaneously detecting HIV/AIDS antibodies and viral RNA from the AIDS virus in a single specimen, according to the company.
The new diagnostic tool holds promise in the developing world where current testing models rely on initial tests that require a second confirmatory test at a health clinic. Often the first test is insensitive, and the second follow-up health visit is not completed, according to the company.
In resource-limited environments in the developing world, a rapid point-of-care test could help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS by simplifying the process to identify infections.
"The funding and support from the NIH validates our technology," said Tony Eisenhut, president of Rheonix, in a statement. "The broad applicability of a combined HIV screening and confirmatory test will have a significant commercial and social impact that we're excited to see materialize."
The diagnostic tool works by placing a sample on the Rheonix device. The automated platform runs with no user intervention through the process of sample extraction, purification, amplification and detection, potentially making the testing process quicker, more efficient, less expensive and less likely to result in human error, according to Rheonix.
The $1.5 million grant is the second phase of a Small Business Innovation Research given to Rheonix. The second phase follows an initial $189,646 proof of concept grant, according to the company.