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Ithaca-area company wins NIH grant funding for HIV/AIDS test

By Eric Reinhardt


LANSING, N.Y. — The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Rheonix, Inc. a grant to finish development of a point-of-care test for HIV/AIDS.

The small-business innovation research (SBIR) phase II grant from NIH will help the firm complete development of “fully automated self-confirming assay that can simultaneously detect HIV/AIDS antibodies and viral RNA from the AIDS virus in a single specimen,” the company announced.

Rheonix contends its system will “simplify” HIV testing and eliminate the need for “multiple” patient visits to health-care providers.

The $1.5 million, 18-month, phase II grant follows the company’s completion of a phase I “proof-of-concept” grant of more than $189,000. Rheonix will use the additional funding to finish working on a commercial-ready test for use in the developing world, according to a news release it issued Tuesday. The company, based in the town of Lansing, is a developer of automated molecular-testing products.

“The funding and support from the NIH validates our technology. The broad applicability of a combined HIV screening and confirmatory test will have a significant commercial and social impact that we’re excited to see materialize,” Tony Eisenhut, president of Rheonix, said in the release.

The “large” number of individuals who are unaware they are infected, or who have limited access to advanced diagnostics “continues to fuel” the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, Rheonix said.

Governments and nongovernmental organizations around the world are encouraging “more frequent” testing and support various programs to reduce the impact of the disease, the release stated.

Current technologies require confirmation of a positive test result by a second, more sensitive and more specific test.

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