Daktari Diagnostics, which is commercializing a diagnostic platform to meet the health care needs in Africa, Asia, and resource-limited settings worldwide, has been awarded a UNITAID grant for $2.68 million to commercialize its point-of-care CD4 system in seven African countries.
The grant, which will run through 2015, is part of the UNITAID market entry program, which supports the late-stage commercialization of innovative technologies that can improve health in developing countries, and to encourage competition from new manufacturers in order to lower prices. Through the UNITAID grant program, Daktari will conduct evaluations and commercialize the Daktari CD4 System in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, which collectively have 9.5 million HIV-infected people in need of care.
The Daktari CD4 System, validated in studies conducted in the United States, Kenya, and Uganda in 2012 and 2013, encompasses a battery-powered, handheld instrument and a disposable, single-use microfluidic assay cartridge. Operators collect whole blood by fingerstick or venipuncture, load a drop of blood into the Daktari CD4 Cartridge, and insert the loaded cartridge into the Daktari instrument. Results are reported on a display screen in 14 minutes, and are transmitted wirelessly to central databases through the Daktari connectivity portal.
UNITAID, a Geneva-based multi-lateral agency (www.unitaid.org), uses innovative investments to increase access to quality assured treatments and diagnostics for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in low-income countries through catalytic market-shaping interventions. UNITAID was established in 2006 by the governments of Brazil, Chile, France, Norway, and the United Kingdom, and is now backed by 17 contributing members from around the globe; approximately half of UNITAID's finances come from a levy on air tickets. Since 2006, UNITAID has awarded nearly $2 billion through 15 different types of market interventions and UNITAID investments now benefit over 90 countries. It is hosted at the World Health Organization.
"We are pleased to be working closely with UNITAID to distribute the Daktari CD4 system throughout Africa in the next two years," said Dr. Bill Rodriguez, Daktari's CEO. "UNITAID has led the way in demonstrating the power of changing market forces to make life-saving therapeutics and diagnostics more widely accessible to the poorest people in the world. We are proud to be able to deliver essential test results, like CD4 counts, throughout Africa as part of the UNITAID market entry program."
HIV affects more than 35 million people worldwide, 25 million of who live in sub-Saharan Africa. Over the past decade, investments in healthcare in Africa and developing countries have expanded health services in these regions greatly; daily, lifelong HIV treatment has been made available to more than 9.7 million people worldwide, including 7.5 million people in Africa, and mortality from HIV has dropped by more than 25% in just 6 years. Access to appropriate diagnostic testing -- especially for CD4 cell counts used to stage and monitor HIV patients -- remains a critical bottleneck to effective, efficient HIV care. Recent estimates anticipate a global need for 40 million CD4 counts annually, the majority of which need to be simple to use, affordable, and implemented at the point of care.
Daktari Diagnostics, Inc. (www.daktaridx.com) is a venture-backed company based in Cambridge, USA. Daktari's corporate mission is to address the world's biggest health problems by building a market-leading business around a fleet of accurate, portable diagnostic products that can be deployed anywhere in the world. The Daktari technology platform combines electrochemical sensing with microfluidics, enabling highly accurate, low-cost diagnostics in a handheld format. The Daktari connectivity platform provides seamless data management for results produced at any health facility.