The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) has concluded an extensive Request for Proposal (RFP) process to address the diagnostic requirements for the hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Grants will be awarded to carry out feasibility studies of several technologies that could transform HCV testing at the point of care (POC).

BLINK-DX, Abbott, and Diagnostics for the Real World will get grant support to advance their potential HCV RNA tests on a polyvalent, POC molecular platform.

Chembio Diagnostics, Mologic and DCN Diagnostics will also get support to develop and validate prototype HCV core antigen (cAg) tests on their rapid diagnostic test (RDT) platforms.

“Grants will be awarded to carry out feasibility studies of several technologies that could transform HCV testing at the point of care.”

Besides the funding, FIND will offer project support, including technical expertise, reference samples for assay development, and antibodies for capture and detection of HCV cAg.

This RFP comes following an extensive round of consultations by FIND with several stakeholders, which led to the development of a target product profile (TPP) with an intention to facilitate the decentralisation of differentiated HCV care and treatment services, as suggested in the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) for hepatitis B and C testing.

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FIND has given grants to Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+) and Treatment Action Group (TAG) for the development and implementation of country-specific strategies for demand creation and advocacy activities on HCV diagnosis and diagnostics in Cameroon, Georgia, India, Malaysia, Myanmar and Viet Nam.

The feasibility studies and the demand creation and advocacy programmes are both part of the Unitaid-funded Hepatitis C Elimination through Access to Diagnostics (HEAD-Start) project.

HCV is an infectious disease, claiming the lives of around 400,000 people every year.

More than 71 million people are chronically infected, and over 80% of them live in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). However, only one in five people know they have the disease.

WHO has set a target of eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030.

FIND CEO Catharina Boehme said: “Chronic hepatitis C has surpassed HIV as a leading cause of death in many countries, but to achieve WHO elimination targets – and to avoid a potential 2.1 million HCV-associated deaths – it is crucial to increase the number of people who are diagnosed and link them to treatment.

“We need affordable, point-of-care diagnostics, and smart strategies to ensure they reach patients, including integration into existing testing pathways such as HIV care and support services. Without this holistic diagnostic approach, we will not succeed.”