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Scout Nabs $1M CARB-X Award for Point-of-Care Molecular STI Test

NEW YORK – Diagnostics developer Scout announced Thursday that it has been awarded $1 million in funding from the Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X). The funding will support the development of Scout's point-of-care molecular diagnostic test for sexually transmitted infections.

The Santa Clara, California-based company formerly known as Uh-Oh Labs will use the funding to demonstrate proof of concept and feasibility of an assay called STI Scout that detects and differentiates Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis on the firm's isothermal molecular diagnostic system.

The system includes the Scout Hub, Scout Connect mobile app, and single-use Scout Test Kits. It uses the firm's proprietary Loop-de-Loop isothermal molecular diagnostic chemistries and produces results in approximately 30 minutes.

The STI Scout test can be used on first void urine or vaginal swabs, the company said in a statement, adding that future tests will also detect antibiotic susceptibility of gonorrhea.

The firm is currently targeting respiratory, sexual, and women's health testing with its system. Scout obtained Emergency Use Authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration in 2022 for a SARS-CoV-2 test performed in point-of-care settings and said it has a pending authorization for use of the test in over-the-counter settings. The STI test is expected to expand the menu of the system and to provide point-of-care testing at STI clinics and urgent care centers. It will also potentially be offered as an at-home test, as well.

"Scout's approach benefits clinicians and patients by providing timely, accurate results, which can lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of patients," said Cam Ball, cofounder and chief technology officer at Scout.

The low-cost design of its consumables and its simple-to-use interface could enable the test to be used globally, the firm also noted, potentially expanding access to gonorrhea testing in resource-limited settings.

Erin Duffy, R&D chief of CARB-X, said in the statement, "Given the prevalence of gonorrhea globally, and the growing prevalence of drug-resistant gonorrhea, to diagnose quickly and affordably would allow physicians at all levels of the healthcare system to treat rapidly with the most appropriate therapy."

Scout was previously supported by approximately $14.9 million from the National Institutes of Health's Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program and the Point-of-Care Technologies Research Network (POCTRN).

CARB-X is a public-private partnership led by Boston University and funded by a consortium of governments and foundations to address the threat of drug-resistant bacteria through therapeutics and rapid diagnostics.

Scout's test is the second diagnostic to receive a CARB-X award as part of its 2022-2023 funding call, following a $1.8 million award to Visby diagnostics for an instrument-free PCR test to detect CT/NG and gonorrhea susceptibility. CARB-X noted in a statement that additional projects are under review, and new awardees and funding calls will be announced this year.