Sherlock Bio, Cepheid pair up to develop CRISPR diagnostics for coronavirus and more

The collaboration will focus on in vitro diagnostics for Cepheid’s GeneXpert platform, starting with a proof-of-concept project aimed at the novel coronavirus. (Ernesto del Aguila III, NIH NHGRI)

Sherlock Biosciences has teamed up with Cepheid to help develop its CRISPR-based molecular diagnostic tech for new tests on the latter’s automated laboratory systems.

The collaboration will focus on in vitro diagnostics for Cepheid’s GeneXpert platform focused on infectious diseases and oncology, starting with a proof-of-concept project aimed at the novel coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2. 

“This partnership will allow us to explore utilizing Cepheid’s easy-to use-cartridge to further develop targeted molecular tests that better address outbreak scenarios,” David Persing, Cepheid’s chief medical and technology officer, said in a statement

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“With a global installed base of over 23,000 GeneXpert Systems, this technology could potentially be applied in multiple settings where actionable treatment information is needed quickly,” Persing said.

Both companies hope to pursue grant opportunities for the project. Cepheid’s modular and scalable system can perform between one and 80 simultaneous tests across multiple fields. It currently offers 20 tests in the U.S. and 28 tests outside the country.

RELATED: CRISPR diagnostic maker Sherlock Biosciences says the game's afoot with $35M launch

Meanwhile, Sherlock’s eponymous diagnostic platform—short for Specific High-sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter unLOCKing—checks samples for certain RNA sequences, including those that appear in different viruses. It needs little equipment to maintain temperature and is designed for point-of-care testing in urgent care facilities or emergency rooms.

“SHERLOCK is an ideal platform for rapid response and development for any global outbreak, while also a powerful tool for affordable and rapid molecular diagnostic testing for routine assays,” said Sherlock’s co-founder, president and CEO, Rahul Dhanda. 

The company also says the CRISPR-based signal from its diagnostic can be adapted to work on shelf-stable, paper-strip tests as well as in assays that provide electrochemical results that can be read using a mobile smartphone.

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