Bethlehem’s OraSure Technologies has been awarded a government contract worth up to $16.6 million to research and develop its rapid Zika virus tests.
Douglas A. Michels, president and CEO of OraSure, said the contract has a six-year, multiphased initial commitment of $7 million that will jumpstart the company’s research and development. The contract, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has options for up to an additional $9.6 million for product enhancements and clinical and regulatory activities.
Michels said the contract is similar to the one it received for its rapid Ebola test, when OraSure received an initial sum and then the remainder of the contract was awarded after a few months when progress was shown.
“I anticipate that we will be successful in the development,” Michels said. “There is clearly a need for this product.”
He noted that the Zika test, which OraSure already has in development, is using the company’s OraQuick technology platform that it uses for its rapid HIV and Hepatitis C and Ebola tests.
“It’s an extension of the work we’ve already done on the platform,” Michels said.
The funding will help OraSure optimize the test and make it more responsive to the short window of time when the Zika virus can be detected in the body.
Because the company’s work will be building on and improving an existing platform, the funding will help with OraSure’s portfolio of products, Michels said.