Merck has hosted a discussion with researchers to discuss the intention to launch its innovative Muse Auto CD4/CD4% System, a portable instrument for monitoring the progression of the HIV/AIDS virus, throughout Africa. Regulatory approval has been granted in Nigeria, Cote d’lvoire, Cameroon and Angola, and is pending in South Africa.
Of the more than 35-million people infected with HIV worldwide, 25-million live in Africa alone – and only 19-million are aware of their status, according to a 2014 UNAIDS report. Many patients in this part of the world, particularly those in rural areas, lack access to regular medical care. Treatment is often hindered by the long distances from the patient’s village to the nearest hospital or clinic.
“As a life science leader, we aim to deliver the most innovative, highest quality products and services to help our customers improve human health and life every day, everywhere,” says Udit Batra, president and CEO of Merck’s life science business. “Through the launch of the Muse CD4/CD4% system, we are enabling health professionals in Africa to more effectively respond to the health care needs of their patients and make progress towards the treatment, cure, and prevention of HIV/AIDS.”
For people infected with HIV, CD4 cells provide an indication of the disease’s progression. In the course of an HIV infection, CD4 cells indicate the state of the immune system and act as markers for T cell lymphocytes. Patients with a low count of these cells in their blood are at increased risk of opportunistic infections.
Merck developed the Muse Auto CD4/CD4% system for rapid, simple and accurate monitoring of T cells in adults and children. The low-cost system is designed to be easily portable and operational with minimal training, making it the ideal solution for clinics serving patients living in remote areas.
Merck partnered with the University of Yaounde in Cameroon on the clinical testing of the Muse system. Clinical trials were carried out under the leadership of Professor François-Xavier Mbopi-Keou of the Cameroon Ministry of Health, a Harvard University Fellow, to determine if the product accurately monitored the progression of the virus. The output was successful in both adult and child patients.
“The Muse Auto CD4/CD4% system combines a compact instrument with a unique assay and automated gating and acquisition software to easily monitor patients’ CD4 T lymphocytes,” says Prof Mbopi-Keou. “A user-friendly touchscreen interface and intuitive software work together to simplify operation and analysis.”
In addition to partnering with the University of Yaounde, Merck has been participating in meetings held by the International AIDS Society, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the African Society of Laboratory Medicine and the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. The company has also developed strong working relationships with non-government organisations (NGOs) in Africa, as well as government organizations and health ministries.