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Chembio Diagnostics gets Gates grant for oral malaria test

Medford-based Chembio Dignostics has received a $678,000 grant

Medford-based Chembio Dignostics has received a $678,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for a new malaria test, officials said Monday, April 25, 2016. Above, employees at the company headquarters on Feb. 19, 2014. Credit: Heather Walsh

A Medford company has received a $678,000 grant from a foundation led by Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates for a new malaria test, officials said Monday.

Chembio Diagnostic Systems Inc. announced it would develop “the world’s first oral fluid/saliva point-of-care diagnostic test to simply and accurately identify individuals infected with all species of malaria” with funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The grant is the second awarded to the company by the foundation. A year ago, the business received between $300,000 and $400,000 for a rapid blood test for malaria.

That test “demonstrated the ability to detect malaria in individuals with low parasite densities using whole blood,” said Javan Esfandiari, Chembio’s chief science and technology officer. He also said the company’s successful development of a saliva test for HIV “provides optimism that we can apply the patented . . . [testing technology] toward the detection of malaria using oral fluid/saliva.”

Last year, there were 438,000 deaths around the world from malaria, primarily in Africa, and 214 million new cases, according to the World Health Organization.

The Gates Foundation has been working to combat the disease for some time.

Chembio’s shares rose 12 cents Monday, or 1.7 percent, to close at $7.22 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

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