COVID-19 News

BARDA funds COVID-19 research by partners with existing drugs

A rapid diagnostic test for COVID-19 infections and an antibody medicine being evaluated for COVID-19 treatment will receive additional research support from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

Cepheid of Sunnyvale, California, developed the diagnostic test for use on its GeneXpert diagnostic platform, which is used worldwide to test for other infections, such as tuberculosis, HIV, Group A Streptococcus (strep), and influenza. The COVID-19 test can provide results within 45 minutes, and is designed for use in clinical and hospital laboratories.

BARDA, part of the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), will provide Cepheid with technical expertise and approximately $3.7 million in initial funding by using an existing agreement between the company and the Department of Defense’s Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND). Additional funding is planned as the program progresses.

Cepheid has a number of other federal ties, according to the US Small Business Administration, which coordinates the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program :

* It was co-founded in 1996 by M. Allen Northrup, a former researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Labs
* It licensed LLNL technology for rapid PCR thermocycling, integrating amplification and detection
* The DoD/Army SBIR funded Cepheid in 1998 for creating a portable, hand-held, high-speed PCR thermal cycler with real-time optical detection, enabling point-of-care diagnostics (https://www.sbir.gov/sbirsearch/detail/120337)

The potential treatment, Kevzara, was developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals of Tarrytown, NY, and is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Kevzara was developed under a collaboration between Regeneron and Sanofi; the companies continue to collaborate on studying Kevzara for COVID-19 applications, with Regeneron leading U.S.-based trials and Sanofi leading trials outside the U.S.

This partnership with Regeneron is among the first to be issued by BARDA with funding from the H.R.6074 – Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 that was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by the president on March 6.

Read more about Cepheid here: https://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/news/Pages/coronavirus-cepheid-22March2...

Read more about Kevzara here: https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/03/21/hhs-funds-phase-2-3-clinical-t...