The grant is part of phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to accelerate Asanté HIV-1 Rapid Recency Assay, a new test that uses portable handheld reader which can show an estimation of how recently an HIV infection has occurred from results obtained

The company says that the assay, as a diagnostic tool, the test can offer additional information about infected individuals above and beyond the mere presence of the infection.

The assay can also provide enhanced case management including selective, targeted, follow-up and contact tracing of recently infected individuals, known to have high risk of transmission to others due to initial viral load spike which, the company says is typical in early infections.

Sedia claims that the test has the ability to identify suitable candidate individuals for therapeutic regimens targeting “functional cure“ approaches.

Functional cures are those therapy regimens where treatment does not effect true or sterilising cure or total elimination of the virus.

Sedia says that identifying recent or early infections before the latent virus levels become too high or genetically diverse and thus, resistance to therapeutic agents increases. This is believed to be an important stage in the control of the virus.

Prior to regulatory approval, the test will be available on a research use only basis. It can also be used by epidemiologists to find HIV new infections, allowing estimates of HIV-1 incidence rates without depending on complex laboratory-based assays or costly longitudinal cohort studies.

Sedia Biosciences president and chief science officer and the principal Investigator on the grant, Ronald Mink said: “We are already seeing significant interest in the Asanté Rapid HIV-1 Recency Assay from Public Health groups for near-term applications to quickly obtain data on HIV epidemic progression, and have further received requests from researchers to use the assay in trials for individual case management.

“As the development of new therapeutic regimens for functional cure approaches expands, there is tremendous potential for this test to play a significant role in controlling the global AIDS epidemic.”