Sherlock, Mologic Launch Gates Foundation-Funded MDx Partnership

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CRISPR-based diagnostics developer Sherlock Biosciences will partner with Mologic to develop instrument-free, point-of-care molecular tests, through a collaboration being funded by an expanded grant of undisclosed amount to Mologic from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. [Mark Garlick/Science Photo Library/Getty Images]

CRISPR-based diagnostics developer Sherlock Biosciences will partner with Mologic to develop instrument-free, point-of-care molecular tests, through a collaboration being funded by an expanded grant of undisclosed amount to Mologic from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The companies said the funding from the Gates Foundation will enable them to leverage Sherlock’s core synthetic biology platform INSPECTR with Mologic’s core immunoassay platforms—ELTABA for enzyme activity detection, and CARD, the high sensitivity lateral flow technology developed at Mologic’s Centre for Advanced Rapid Diagnostics.

Mologic established the CARD platform after being awarded a two-year, $4.8 million grant by the Gates Foundation in 2016. As of May, the Foundation had committed a total $9.7 million to establish and accelerate the CARD technology, according to Mologic.

Sherlock and Mologic said their goal is to revolutionize molecular diagnostics by developing affordable, universal platforms capable of detecting DNA or RNA targets in virtually any decentralized site, for use in homes and developing areas.

Sherlock’s INSPECTR (INternal Splint-Pairing Expression Cassette Translation Reaction) platform can be programmed to distinguish targets based on a single nucleotide at room temperature, without laboratory equipment.

“Our INSPECTR platform was designed to be the very first low-cost, rapid, instrument-free molecular diagnostic system to truly address diagnostic needs where solutions do not exist today, especially in low-resource and home settings,” Rahul K. Dhanda, Sherlock’s Co-Founder, President and CEO, said in a statement. “This program will enable us to build on the power of our INSPECTR platform to create diagnostic tools that provide accurate and affordable results in virtually any setting, while working with Mologic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop lateral flow technology to improve global health.”

Sherlock’s co-founders include a pioneer of CRISPR technology, Feng Zhang, PhD. The company announced its launch in March, and the following month completed a $31 million Series A financing. Last month, Sherlock announced it had been awarded an undisclosed amount of funding from the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to develop a rapid response platform for ultra-fast, ultra-sensitive and field-deployable diagnostics.

As part of its partnership with Sherlock, Mologic said it will expand its presence in the U.S. by establishing a joint development center with Sherlock that will be built in Cambridge, MA, within Sherlock’s lab space. Mologic has already established a New England-based subsidiary.

Mologic said the new center will enable it to establish full immunoassay research and development capabilities and enhance its ability to provide service and support to its U.S.-based partners.

“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,” added Mark Davis, Mologic’s CEO 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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