J&J partners with San Diego startup Cue to develop portable HIV viral load Dx

At-home diagnostic test for testosterone, fertility, inflammation, vitamin D and influenza--Courtesy of Cue

Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) has partnered with Cue to develop a portable, inexpensive and internet-enabled HIV viral load test that would enable physicians in poor countries to more easily determine if a particular drug regimen is effective or not.

Cue is backed by Sherpa Ventures, which was co-founded by early Uber backer Shervin Pishevar. The firm led a $7.5 million investment in the at-home diagnostics developer in late 2014. Its core project is an at-home diagnostic test for testosterone, fertility, inflammation, vitamin D and influenza. The company has previously said it was aiming for a late 2015 approval of that device, dubbed Cue. But on any word of FDA approval, the company has been mum thus far.

Using Cue, users insert a small bodily fluid sample with results sent from it via Bluetooth to an iPhone app. It's slated to cost $199 with single-use cartridges for $4 each.

The J&J deal indicates that Cue has broadened its ambitions from those for early adopters in the U.S to vital tests needed in poor nations. The expectation is that a J&J-Cue HIV viral load test would improve disease management for people living with HIV all over the world, particularly in the places with sizable HIV-infected populations such as Africa, India and Southeast Asia.

Cue CEO Ayub Khattak

"We're excited to work with Janssen, a leader in the HIV field, to accelerate the development of the HIV quantitative viral load test on Cue's platform," said Cue CEO Ayub Khattak in a statement. "Together we can make a big impact on this significant global health challenge by bringing simplicity, immediacy and affordability to the field of HIV viral load testing in an unprecedented way."

- here is the announcement