Diassess to get up to $21.9M from the feds to develop its at-home flu diagnostic

purple flu virus
The company's disposable influenza A and B test would use a nasal swab inserted into a battery-powered device capable of detecting the virus’ genetic information. (CDC)

Diassess was awarded a federal contract worth up to $21.9 million to develop an at-home flu diagnostic test.

The five-year partnership with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority will also accelerate Diassess’ development of its professional flu diagnostic for the clinic, the company said in a statement.

The separate, consumer-focused test will include a smartphone app that will link users to treatment options. The company said the funding, with its total subject to options exercised by BARDA, will be enough to take both tests through clinical trials and submissions for FDA clearance.

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“Time and cost are two formidable barriers discouraging consumers from seeking care which ultimately leads to a longer, more severe illness and additional time away from work,” said Debkishore Mitra, chief technology officer and co-founder of Diassess, which graduated from Y Combinator in 2015.

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The company aims to provide an accurate diagnosis quickly, beginning with a nasal swab. The sample would then be inserted into a small, battery-powered device capable of detecting the virus’ genetic information and determining a diagnosis of influenza A or B.

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“Our flu diagnostic technologies address both barriers head-on, requiring less than 20 minutes to confirm diagnosis either in the doctor’s office or at home for a reasonable price,” Mitra said.

Diassess plans to launch its in-clinic diagnostic in 2020, with the over-the-counter version coming the year after. The Emeryville, California-based company is also developing DNA-based diagnostics for sexually transmitted infections, dengue and Zika fever, and other respiratory illnesses.

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