Immunetics Inc., a Boston company specializing in technology for infectious disease diagnosis and blood screening, said it has received a $3.7 million contract from an agency of the National Institutes of Health to support the testing of a new blood screening test for Babesia infection.
Babesia is a parasite that is transmitted by the same ticks that transmit Lyme disease, and it can lead to severe or fatal illness, especially in people whose immune systems have been compromised. The parasites can remain viable in blood donations and infect transfusion recipients, Immunetics said in a press release. There is currently no licensed test available.
“The NIH contract will allow us to address this gap in blood safety with the first cost-effective test designed for high-throughput screening of the blood supply,” Immunetics chief executive Andrew E. Levin said in a statement.
The company’s Babesia test was developed with initial NIH support, and the new contract will enable Immunetics to bring its Babesia test through clinical trials and the licensing process, the company said. The trials will be carried out with Blood Systems Research Institute of San Francisco and Creative Testing Solutions of Tempe, Ariz.