Engineering biology company Sherlock Biosciences has received a grant worth $5m from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to advance the development of its instrument-free, synthetic biology-based molecular diagnostics platform.
The Internal Splint-Pairing Expression Cassette Translation Reaction (INSPECTR) platform uses synthetic biology to aid in creating instrument-free diagnostic tests that can be carried out at home and room temperature.
Sherlock Biosciences chief technology officer William Blake said: “We are deeply grateful for the support of the Gates Foundation as we seek to empower individuals all over the world to control their own healthcare decisions by making low-cost, self-diagnostic tests available.
“In addition to advancing our INSPECTR platform development to be as sensitive as gold-standard PCR tests, the funding will support our development of an over-the-counter disposable product, similar to an at-home pregnancy test, that can be used to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.”
The platform can be tailored to work on a simple paper strip test or to deliver an electrochemical readout read with a phone.
Furthermore, the platform can be put into use in laboratory or point-of-care settings.
Sherlock Biosciences noted that INSPECTR can potentially change health outcomes for people across the globe, alleviating the disease spread and also aid patients in making crucial health decisions quickly.
On receipt of approval, the company intends to launch the product in mid-2021.
Sherlock Biosciences co-founder and board member James Collins said: “By creating the very first diagnostic tests that do not require complex instruments and can be deployed anywhere, especially in low-resource settings, Sherlock is poised to make a wide-ranging and powerful impact on health outcomes.
Last week, Sherlock Biosciences and China-based Tolo Biotech signed exclusive license agreements for their diagnostic technologies.