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Chembio to work on test for traumatic brain injury

Chembio chief executive John Sperzel at the company

Chembio chief executive John Sperzel at the company lab in Medford on Oct. 28, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Chembio Diagnostics Inc. will work on a rapid test for traumatic brain injury, including concussions from playing sports, executives said Tuesday.

The Medford-based manufacturer of point-of-care tests used to detect HIV and syphilis is partnering with the Concussion Science Group division of Perseus Science Group LLC in a study to diagnose brain injuries.

Perseus Science, based in Connecticut, will have its concussion unit make payments to Chembio this year. The concussion unit has patented a biomarker to identify brain injuries in humans.

John J. Sperzel, Chembio's chief executive, said he hopes the research "will aid in early diagnosis, reduced costs and improved outcomes for patients."

He also said more than 775,000 children are treated at hospitals each year for brain injuries due to playing sports. Concussion is the most common injury but often goes undiagnosed for a time.

Sperzel said a rapid test "could lead to early intervention and reduced incidence of secondary injuries."

The concussion research agreement follows those announced by Chembio last year for tests for the Ebola virus, dengue fever virus and an undisclosed type of cancer.

Chembio also widened distribution of one of its rapid HIV tests to clinics, community health care centers and more doctors' offices in this country because of a federal waiver last year. The company increased its U.S. sales team to six people as a result.

Chembio's tests for HIV and syphilis are widely used overseas, including in South America. The business employs about 160 people in Medford and Holbrook, a drop of 40 or so from 2013.

The concussion partnership announcement came before yesterday's stock market opening. Chembio shares closed down 3 cents, or about 1 percent, to $3.89 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. In the past year they were up more than 11 percent.

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