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Chembio signs deal to work with Mass General on diagnostic tests

John J. Sperzel, CEO of Chembio Diagnostics, in

John J. Sperzel, CEO of Chembio Diagnostics, in Medford. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Chembio Diagnostics Inc. will develop diagnostic tests for typhoid and other fever illnesses with Massachusetts General Hospital, officials announced Tuesday.

The Medford-based manufacturer of rapid tests for Ebola, Zika, malaria and other diseases said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Boston hospital to develop tests for individuals with fever symptoms.

Chembio’s testing technology will be combined with the hospital’s disease markers to detect the presence of illness.

Chembio CEO John J. Sperzel said there are 21 million cases of typhoid-related illness each year, claiming 222,000 lives worldwide. “Through this collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital, the nation’s largest hospital-based research program, we aim to reduce the incidence of disease globally,” he said.

About a year ago, Sperzel’s life was saved at the hospital when he received a heart transplant after being diagnosed with a rare disorder, giant cell myocarditis. “The donor heart came in the nick of time because I was down to a week or so left to live,” he said in October 2017.

Dr. Edward Ryan, the hospital’s director of global infectious diseases, said Tuesday that the collaboration with Chembio could “have huge clinical and public health implications, not only assisting in the clinical care of patients, but also in understanding [the] regional burden of disease” around the world.

He and Chembio’s chief scientist, Javan Esfandiari, said the new tests will hopefully reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics, which leads to the development of drug-resistant organisms.

They also said the tests will lead to the early diagnosis of hard to detect illnesses such as malaria, typhoid fever, dengue, leptospirosis, Zika and typhus.

The announcement came before the stock market opened. Chembio shares closed up 5 cents, at $8.90 on the Nasdaq stock market.




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