New anthrax diagnostic blood test in development

A blood test in development by MRI Global will allow for the quick detection of an anthrax infection in the event of a chemical attack, the company announced on Monday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contracted MRI Global of Kansas City, Mo., to develop the blood test. The contract is valued at approximately $1.6 million and will span 15 months.

If deemed successful, the contract could be extended to five years and approximately $12 million.

Fast, accurate confirmation of an anthrax infection would allow caregivers to provide life-saving medical attention to those infected. In addition, public safety officials would be able to identify and respond to an anthrax attack faster, which could further save lives and medical resources.

Developers of the new testing method are seeking approval from the FDA and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority in the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.

"This project is the first that BARDA will sponsor to develop new diagnostics for bio threats for use during public health emergencies," said BARDA Director Dr. Robin Robinson. "Quickly identifying people exposed to anthrax is crucial to providing appropriate care."

If approved by the FDA, MRI Global and the federal government would make the diagnostic test available to commercial laboratories in the event of a chemical attack.