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Corgenix, Tulane Announce Award of NIH Grant Extending Hemorrhagic Fever Virus Product Development Program

May 7, 2009

Recent Lassa fever outbreaks in Africa show vital need for new products that can be processed in any clinical or field lab

DENVER and NEW ORLEANS, May 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Corgenix Medical Corporation (OTC Bulletin Board: CONX), a worldwide developer and marketer of diagnostic test kits, has announced an extension of the collaborative effort for developing test kits for the detection of viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF).

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a five-year grant to Tulane University for further development of the VHF kits. Collaborating with Corgenix and Tulane in this grant are Autoimmune Technologies, LLC, Vybion, Inc. and various partners in West Africa.

“We are extremely pleased to be part of this collaboration and to have received the NIH grant,” said Douglass Simpson, Corgenix President and CEO. “We have made major strides in the development and clinical study phases and this will enable us to further develop the assays, complete the clinical studies and achieve full commercialization.”

This is the second grant awarded to Tulane for Lassa virus products. Under the original grant awarded in 2005, the group developed and patented new recombinant proteins for Lassa virus and developed several viral detection products which were deployed in Africa for clinical testing. Under the new grant, Corgenix and the other partners will move the prototype Lassa products into full commercialization. Current tests typically require the culture of live Lassa virus in a high-containment laboratory to produce reagents. These tests are expensive, laborious to produce, and not commercially available, leaving no adequate options for laboratory diagnosis of VHFs in sub-Saharan Africa where most VHFs are endemic.

Joseph Fair, Ph.D., MPH, Director, Global Field Operations, Global Viral Forecasting Initiative, San Francisco, a consultant to the Lassa group, noted, “these recombinant-based serological assays designed for field deployment offer the public health and scientific communities a powerful tool to accurately assess the true disease burden and risks posed by Lassa and other especially dangerous pathogens, while collaterally improving upon their treatment and ultimately prevention.”

Lassa fever, a serious viral disease spread by contact with infected rodents, is estimated to infect 300,000 to 500,000 people per year across West Africa, with approximately 5,000 deaths. In some areas of Sierra Leone and Liberia, up to 16 percent of people admitted to hospitals have Lassa fever. Lassa fever is also associated with occasional epidemics, during which the case-fatality rate can reach 50 percent.

New outbreaks of the Lassa fever have been reported recently, including in Nigeria. Daniel Bausch, M.D., MPH&TM, Director of Tulane’s Research and Training Program in West Africa, observed, “We are now seeing much broader presence of this disease in Africa. Within the past year alone we have seen a significant increase in the number of cases in Nigeria, with increased fatalities. It is critical that the assays we have already developed and are using in Africa, as well as others still in our development pipeline, become fully deployed to aid in this vital effort.”

Under the NIH grant, Tulane will conduct a five-year study designed to complete the tests for VHFs, some of which are potential bioterrorism agents due to their high fatality rate and ease of transmission from person-to-person.

Robert Garry, Ph.D., Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the Tulane University School of Medicine and Principle Investigator of the program, added, “We have been very pleased with the results of our development effort. The products have shown to be remarkably effective in clinical settings in Africa and will have a meaningful impact on the health care in that part of the world, but will also fill a critical gap in bioterrorism defense. Now, under the new NIH award, we will complete the development and move to commercialization of the Lassa fever detection products and expand our efforts across Africa.”

Dr. Garry stated that the group intends to expand this program to address other important infectious agents–such as Ebola, Marburg and other hemorrhagic fever viruses–that are of concern to the public health and bioterrorism preparedness communities.

About Corgenix Medical Corporation

Corgenix (Denver, Colo.) is a leader in the development and manufacturing of specialized diagnostic kits for immunology disorders, vascular diseases, bone and joint disorders. Corgenix diagnostic products are commercialized for use in clinical laboratories throughout the world. The company currently sells over 50 diagnostic products through a global distribution network. More information is available at www.corgenix.com.

About Tulane University

Tulane University (New Orleans, La.) was founded in 1834. Tulane is one of the most highly regarded and selective research universities in the United States, and is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. Tulane’s schools and colleges offer undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees in the liberal arts, science and engineering, architecture, business, law, social work, medicine and public health and tropical medicine.

About Autoimmune Technologies, LLC

Autoimmune Technologies (New Orleans, La.) is a privately held biomedical company. It has licensed several breakthrough research discoveries from Tulane University School of Medicine and has made exciting discoveries of its own. Autoimmune is working to offer new diagnostic tests and new anti-viral therapeutics to the medical community based on this proprietary research.

About Vybion, Inc.

Vybion (Ithaca, N.Y.) is an emerging biotechnology company with a proprietary biopharmaceutical drug pipeline and platform technology for human monoclonal antibody selection and affinity maturation. The company’s contract division has developed over 150 recombinant proteins in multiple expression systems including 12 biologic drugs in various phases of clinical development.

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SOURCE Corgenix Medical Corporation


Source: newswire