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AstraZeneca to pay Chembio up to $2.9 million to develop test

A Chembio Diagnostics scientist works at the Medford

A Chembio Diagnostics scientist works at the Medford company. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

A Medford manufacturer of diagnostic tests has teamed with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca to develop a test to detect a biomarker or substance that shows a disease or infection is present in the body, officials said.

Chembio Diagnostics Inc. said it will receive up to $2.9 million from AstraZeneca, the Cambridge, England-based seller of the acid reflux medicine Nexium and other drugs, for the new test.

The companies did not disclose the specific biomarker that the test will detect.

Chembio, with sales of $18 million in 2016, is best known for developing rapid blood tests used to diagnose HIV, syphilis, Ebola, Zika and other tropical diseases.

The company announced last month the successful completion of U.S. tests in humans of a new combination HIV and syphilis test. It plans to seek permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin selling the test and a companion results reader.

CEO John Sperzel said last month the research agreement with AstraZeneca will “leverage” Chembio’s testing technology “to develop and commercialize a novel point-of-care diagnostic test.”

AstraZeneca, a British and Swedish company, produces drugs to treat cancer, heart disease, stomach ailments, respiratory diseases and inflammation. It posted sales of $23 billion in 2016.

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