FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Seattle | Sept. 19, 2018: Before an infectious disease can be treated, it must be detected. Key attributes of successful diagnostic tests include speed and cost, but it is also critical that they are easy to administer – particularly in remote areas that do not have ready access to labs or health care facilities. HDT Biotech Corporation (www.hdtbiocorp.com) is teaming with IDRI (www.idri.org), both of Seattle, WA, to develop a cost-effective test with enhanced sensitivity for detecting infection with M. leprae, the bacterium that causes leprosy. Funding for test development is being provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, under Contract No. HHSN272201800019C.

Characterized by the World Health Organization as a “neglected tropical disease,” leprosy (also known as Hansen’s disease) is caused by Mycobacterium leprae infection. The mycobacterium is capable of causing disfiguration as well as progressive and irreversible nerve damage. The goal of the funded development stage is to optimize production of a defined recombinant antigen and evaluate it, in conjunction with IDRI formulations, for its ability to detect an M. leprae-specific response when inoculated into the skin.

“This project combines expertise in formulations technology with our experience with leprosy,” said Malcolm Duthie, PhD, Vice President of Research at HDT. “We aim to develop a test for leprosy that is similar to the PPD skin test that is currently used for tuberculosis. A test of this nature will be easy to use for mass screening and can be used for early diagnosis of leprosy.”

If successful in this phase I study, next steps will include evaluation of the prioritized formulation with specialized intradermal inoculation devices before distribution to a network of collaborators for field evaluation in various M. leprae-endemic regions. “For the first time, it will be possible to have a safe and effective test for early detection of infection with the leprosy bacillus in the places where it is needed most,” said Steve Reed, PhD, IDRI President, CEO and Founder of HDT. “IDRI has a long and successful history of developing diagnostic tools for neglected diseases. Several of these tests are in use to save lives on a daily basis. We hope this project will provide a breakthrough that allows for specific detection of M. leprae infection at very early stages, ultimately allowing intervention to stop progression to disease.”

About HDT: HDT Biotech Corporation was founded with the mission of identifying and developing vaccine, therapeutic, and diagnostic solutions based on activating relevant immune responses to achieve product development goals. Although the overall mission of HDT Bio is to develop immunotherapeutic products for infectious disease indications, within the focus of developing improved vaccines and therapeutics, we aim to develop accompanying diagnostic and prognostic tools to provide comprehensive approaches to disease management. For more information, visit www.hdtbiocorp.com.

About IDRI: As a nonprofit global health organization, IDRI (Infectious Disease Research Institute) takes a comprehensive approach to combat infectious diseases, combining the high-quality science of a research organization with the product development capabilities of a biotech company to create new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines. Founded in 1993, IDRI has 125 employees headquartered in Seattle with nearly 100 partners/collaborators around the world. For more information, visit www.idri.org.

Contacts:

HDT Biocorp: Malcolm Duthie | office@hdtbiocorp.com

IDRI: Lee Schoentrup | lee.schoentrup@idri.org