The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University has selected Torus Biosystems to develop and commercialise its DNA nanotechnology, called DNA toehold.

Developed at the Wyss Institute by Peng Yin and David Zhang, the technology enables rapid quantitative detection of microbial pathogens.

It delivers quantitative DNA and RNA results at the patient point-of-care in less than 30 minutes.

Torus Biosystems will use Harvard technology to provide rapid diagnostic test results, enabling clinicians to better decide on effective clinical interventions.

Using the toehold probe technology together with other technologies developed at Rice University by Zhang, the company plans to develop a rapid low-cost platform to deliver comprehensive and quantitative insights into the infection status of patients.

The platform is expected to enable highly specific, sensitive and broad target analysis to offer reliable sample-to-insight solutions that will help reveal therapy-relevant aspects of infectious disease biology.

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Wyss Core Faculty member and Torus Biosystems director and co-founder Peng Yin said: “Toehold probes with their extraordinary precision and robustness are among the first breakthroughs of the Wyss Institute’s DNA nanotechnology efforts, and it will be exciting to see how Torus Biosystems realises their potential.”

Torus Biosystemspresident and CEO Shawn Marcell said: “In the midst of a generational pandemic, the Torus platform can play an important role in an age of novel infectious diseases.

“The toehold technology from the Wyss Institute unlocks the platform’s unique potential to provide comprehensive, rapid and clinically actionable diagnostic results at the patient point-of-service for infectious disease syndromes.”

Wyss Institute’s founding director Donald Ingber said: “We are confident that the Wyss Institute’s toehold technology, in the hands of the Torus team, can make a significant difference in the diagnosis of challenging infectious diseases.

“By greatly shortening the time between sampling and diagnosis, this bioinspired technology could dramatically improve the chances for survival in infected patients where the speed, at which optimal therapy is selected, can be the difference between life and death.”

Previously, Harvard’s Office of Technology Development (OTD) and Torus Biosystems signed a worldwide licensing agreement.