ALBOT USA and ALBOT Technologies India have obtained a licence from Sherlock Biosciences’ The 221b Foundation to develop, produce and distribute Covid-19 diagnostic tests using the latter’s CRISPR technology.

Currently, ALBOT has a capacity to produce up to 30,000 units daily, boosting access in a region with high numbers of Covid-19 cases and emergent variants.

The Specific High Sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter unlocking (SHERLOCK) diagnostic platform can perform single-molecule identification of nucleic acid targets.

It leverages CRISPR activity for ‘smart amplicon detection’ and can be integrated with current diagnostic instruments, thereby expediting the time to a result, owing to its multiplexing capacity.

On detecting a specific DNA or RNA sequence, a CRISPR enzyme gets activated and cuts adjacent genetic material to release a fluorescent signal that signifies a positive result.

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Apart from licence agreements in the US, Middle East and Asia, this collaboration with ALBOT will use CRISPR’s quick, precise and automatable solution to aid in India’s fight against Covid-19.

Furthermore, the technology will facilitate the precise identification of highly transmittable variants of concern, such as B.1.617 and B.1.618.

ALBOT Technologies CEO Akash Singh said: “As India confronts the challenges posed by highly transmissible new Covid-19 variants, the ability of Sherlock’s assay to detect 100% of double and triple mutation strains makes it a powerful tool to contain the pandemic.

“We look forward to ramping Sherlock Biosciences’ CRISPR technology in India at a scale of one million tests per month to contain the crisis created by this pandemic.”

In May last year, Sherlock secured Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its CRISPR SARS-CoV-2 kit.

The kit is indicated for the qualitative identification of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2 in the upper respiratory tract and bronchoalveolar lavage samples from people who are suspected of having Covid-19 by their healthcare provider.

Last month, LogicInk signed a licence agreement with The 221b Foundation to use Sherlock Biosciences’ CRISPR technology to create an instrument-free diagnostic biosensor for Covid-19 virus detection.