NIGERIA – Zalgen Labs has inked a three-year contract with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to provide its antibody testing kits for a study to assess the incidence of Lassa fever infections in West Africa.
Under the terms of the contract, Zalgen will supply its Lassa fever antibody testing kits (ReLASV Pan-Lassa NP IgG ELISA) to CEPI’s Enable study partners in Benin, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, to test up to 7,000 participants for Lassa fever antibodies, specifically the anti-Lassa virus nucleoprotein human immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies.
Enable is the largest ever LF study, created and funded by CEPI, to provide a more accurate assessment of the incidence of infections in West Africa, as the true case count is unknown and may differ from current estimates of 100,000 to 300,000 cases per year.
Zalgen, whose mantra is preparedness and whose mission is to develop countermeasures for existing and emerging hemorrhagic fevers that could become pandemics, is able to support CEPI and aligns to CEPI’s mission through its goal to create a world in which epidemics are no longer a threat.
Data provided through the use of Zalgen’s test kits, and the broader Enable Lassa research program seeks to better understand the rate, location, and spread of Lassa virus (LASV) across the region, while also informing the location and implementation of future late-stage trials of Lassa vaccines.
CEPI is a leading funder of Lassa vaccine development, with six Lassa vaccine candidates in preclinical and Phase 1 trials currently in its portfolio. CEPI’s goal, as part of its US$3.5 billion lookahead strategy launched in March 2021, is to produce a licensed Lassa vaccine for routine immunization.
LASV, a potentially deadly hemorrhagic illness, is a Category A pathogen and a Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) agent according to the US National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The World Health Organization (WHO), classifies LASV as one of the pathogens with epidemic potential, thereby making the development of safe and effective vaccines a top global health priority.
Zalgen has developed and commercialized an extensive group of research diagnostic test products for Lassa virus, Ebola virus and other tropical viral diseases, including assays to be performed in centralized testing sites and rapid diagnostic tests to be used in field testing.
“We are delighted to be working with Zalgen Labs to use their Lassa antibody tests as part of our Enable Lassa research programme,” said Melanie Saville, Director of Vaccine Research & Development, CEPI.
“Used across five partner countries who have experienced outbreaks of the potentially deadly hemorrhagic fever, these kits will provide novel information to help support healthcare workers and researchers in West Africa on the true disease burden, while also providing the critical data necessary for future late-stage Lassa vaccine clinical trials.”