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SRI International and CTK Biotech Developing Low-Cost Diagnostic for Hard-to-Diagnose Chikungunya Virus
Date:5/5/2011

MENLO PARK, Calif., May 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- In parts of the world where dengue fever is common, other viral infections are often misdiagnosed. Such misdiagnosis is a waste not only of time and money. It can be especially problematic for sufferers of another mosquito-borne viral infection called chikungunya—its high fever, joint pain that can last for years, and intense headache symptoms mimic the clinical profile of dengue. Recovery from the acute phase of the infection can take from one to several months for adult and elderly victims. Misdiagnosis, combined with “silent” infections that lead to outbreaks in the community, make it difficult to quantify the actual infection numbers and develop the right public health programs.

To solve the accurate diagnosis problem, nonprofit research institute SRI International is working with CTK Biotech to develop a diagnostic assay for early detection of chikungunya that will provide results in less than 20 minutes—compared to the several hours it now usually takes. Most critically, the test will be a “point-of-care” diagnostic that won’t need expensive reagents requiring refrigeration.

“Our collaborative program focuses on developing a series of low-cost, sensitive diagnostics for neglected diseases of global importance,” said Krishna Kodukula, Ph.D., executive director of SRI’s Center for Advanced Drug Research (CADRE) in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. “With CTK, we expect to develop a diagnostic test that will be easy to use in developing nations in the battle against infectious diseases such as chikungunya.”

“We are delighted to form an alliance with SRI International to develop point of care diagnostic kits," said Catherine Chen, M.D., Ph.D., chief executive officer of CTK Biotech. "A collaborative approach like ours, combining SRI research with CTK’s manufacturing capabilities, will result in products that
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