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Chembio Diagnostics to develop single test to detect 9 illnesses

John Sperzel, CEO of Chembio Diagnostics of Medford,

John Sperzel, CEO of Chembio Diagnostics of Medford, which manufactures rapid tests for infectious diseases, in 2014. The company hopes to develop a single rapid test for nine fever-related diseases, officials announced Tuesday, April 4, 2017. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

A local manufacturer hopes to develop a single rapid test for nine fever-related diseases, officials announced Tuesday.

Chembio Diagnostics Inc. of Medford said it is working with FIND, a nonprofit based in Geneva, Switzerland, to develop the test, which is aimed at improving treatment of the illnesses in Asia.

Chembio products can already detect multiple diseases with one blood test. The company’s technology now will be applied to a point-of-care test for nine illnesses, including malaria, dengue, Zika, chikungunya and leptospirosis.

“Our platform offers the ability to develop rapid diagnostic tests that are simple, cost effective and capable of testing for multiple pathogens simultaneously,” said Chembio CEO John Sperzel.

He also said the collaboration with FIND would benefit RVR Diagnostics, a Malaysian manufacturer acquired by Chembio last year.

Dr. Catharina Boehme, CEO of FIND, said the new test “would guide the appropriate use of medicines” and combat the growing resistance to some medicines because of misdiagnosis.

“We urgently need tests like this to ensure effective treatment and care of patients, as well as for the responsible stewardship of antibiotics and other medicines,” she said.

In addition, the executives said FIND is helping Chembio try out a test for Ebola, Marburg and two other diseases in Africa and South America.

FIND was started in 2003 to spur development of diagnostic tests for contagious diseases. It works with the World Health Organization and others.

Chembio is best known for its rapid tests for HIV and syphilis.

Chembio shares closed unchanged Tuesday at $5.25 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

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