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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is to give US$30 million over the next five years to a new initiative that aims to develop diagnostic tests for diseases that affect the world's poor.

The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) – a Geneva-based organisation launched last week – will work with the World Health Organisation, the diagnostics industry and others to apply the innovations in biotechnology to develop affordable diagnostic tests for diseases of the developing world.

"Great strides have been made in developing drugs and increasing patient access to good medicines, but diagnosis remains a stumbling block in public health," says Carlos Morel, director of the WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR).

The initiative will focus initially on accelerating the development and evaluation of new tests to detect tuberculosis (TB). "We are 100 years behind in TB diagnostics," says Mark Perkins, FIND's scientific director. "The technology and know-how is there, but it must be applied to the fight against infectious disease."

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