TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

Epistem receives grant to develop hepatitis C assays

Epistem plc, a U.K.-based biotechnology company, announced on Monday that it received a $1.98 million grant from the European Commission's 7th Framework Programme to develop point of care hepatitis C assays.

The three-year grant is part of a PoC-HCV consortium meant to provide PoC predictive and diagnostic tests that improve the health and quality of life of chronic hepatitis C patients. The consortium, which also includes the France-based Inserm, the France-based Inserm Transfert, the Sweden-based Qlucore and the Portugal-based Biosurfit, plans to use its combined expertise in treatment algorithm design, lab-on-a-disk systems and miniaturized molecular testing to develop and deliver new biomarker tests for hepatitis C.

Epistem plans to develop multiple tests based on its Genedrive handheld European certified, in-vitro, diagnostic-marked polymerase chain reaction platform to provide rapid genotype test results. Epistem will develop assays that include tests to detect and genotype the HCV virus and to identify the IL-28b genotype of HCV-infected patients to determine the best form of treatment.

"This support from the European Union will enable us to accelerate the development of a new range of affordable diagnostic and predictive tests that that will assist in the rapid and appropriate treatment of patients suffering with hepatitis C in developed and under-developed countries," Matthew Walls, the CEO of Epistem, said. "It also enables us to work together with internationally recognized leaders in (hepatitis C) research and other leading (small and medium enterprises) to develop tests that are highly sensitive and can be used in point of care settings."

Epistem develops therapeutics, biomarkers and diagnostics using its knowledge of stem cells.