Sherlock Bioscience and Mologic enter partnership

Synbio specialist Sherlock Biosciences and next-generation lateral flow testing expert Mologic Ltd have joined forces to develop a no-instrument rapid testing platform detecting virtually every infectious pathogen in low resource settings.

Mologic said it will invest a part of an expansion to its $4.9m grant from the Bill and Melinda-Gates Foundation to finance access to Sherlock’s INSPECTR™ platform, which the Cambridge-based US company licences earlier this year from the Wyss Institute.

Under the agreement, Mologic will provide its lateral flow-based platform CARD, which has been demonstrated to provide a 1,000-fold improvement in sensitivity over current technology, and its immunoassay platform ELTABA for enzyme activity detection. Sherlock Bioscience will provide its synthetic biology-based INSPECTR™ platform, which consists of a DNA hybridization-based sensor that can be easily programmed to detect target nucleic acids (DNA or RNA) with single base pair specificity, coupled with a paper-based synthetic gene network that translates the sensor’s detection into a bioluminescent signal that is easily visualised or captured on instant film. Crucially, this process can be done at room temperature and does not require any instrumentation.

For Mologic, the collaboration also means a further geographic expansion as under the deal both companies agreed to build a joint development centre within Sherlock’s lab space in Cambridge/Mass. Mologic has already a New England subsidiary.

By combining their expertises, the partners hope to be able to design affordable, universal detection platforms that will detect DNA or RNA targets in virtually any decentralized site, including low-resource settings and home-based testing.

“We believe there is a unique and powerful synergy between Mologic and Sherlock, and we are delighted to have the Gates Foundation support our efforts to combine our first- and best-in-class technology platforms for nucleic acid sensing, super-antibody engineering, ultra-sensitive lateral flow assays, and enzyme activity detection,” commented Mark Davis, Mologic’s Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder. “By leveraging both companies’ core technologies, we believe we can create extremely sensitive diagnostic tests that produce results with unprecedented speed, without requiring instrumentation, thermal amplification or electricity.

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