More than 35 million people are infected with HIV worldwide. However, in 2014 UNAIDS reported that only 19 million of them are aware of their status. 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.
The life science business is currently developing the Muse Auto CD4/CD4% system, another diagnostic kit for monitoring T cells. The Muse Auto CD4/CD4% system will replace our Guava Auto CD4/CD4% system. Overall, 600 Guava instruments have been sold and around three million patients have been tested and informed of their status. In addition to addressing the needs of adults, the Muse system will also monitor T cells in children and offer a more competitive instrument at a modest price that is intended for use in developing countries. In the development phase of the new Muse system, the life science business partnered with the University of California and in February and April 2014, clinical trials were carried out at the University of Yaounde in Cameroon. A second research study started in November 2014. A final clinical trial is planned for 2015.
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is committed to making health workers aware of the new Muse Auto CD4/CD4% system as well. For many years, we have been participating in meetings held by the International AIDS Society, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the African Society of Laboratory Medicine, and the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany has also developed strong working relationships with NGOs including the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Catholic Relief Services, and the Elisabeth Glazier Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), among others. In addition, the life science business works directly with government organizations including PEPFAR/SCMS as well as numerous health ministries.