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Hememics Biotechnologies Wins $638K BARDA Contract to Develop Bluetooth Coronavirus Test

NEW YORK ─ Hememics Biotechnologies said Thursday it has been awarded $638,000 in government funding to develop a rapid, Bluetooth-connected test that detects SARS-CoV-2 and associated antibodies from nasal swabs or whole blood in one minute or less.

The company will use the funds ─ awarded under a US Department of Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) contract ─ to adapt and test its technology as a tool for identification of COVID-19 by detection of IgG and IgM antibodies and viral particles.

Gaithersburg, Maryland-based Hememics said that under the contract, it will work with BARDA to establish manufacturing reproducibility, scale up production, and generate clinical data for US Food and Drug Administration review of its immuno-biosensor platform.

The technology links test results with cloud-based data management networks, potentially allowing for real-time geographic mapping of outbreaks or instantaneous screening at airports and ship terminals, Hememics said.

The SARS-CoV-2 antibody test will target a need to identify people who have developed antibodies to the virus. It will also be able to test for other diseases of interest that may present along with COVID-19 and can be used to confirm known or suspected disease status in patient populations, the firm said. Its HemBox biosensor tool is the size of a cell phone and is powered by a battery. It is capable of simultaneously testing up to 17 pathogens from a single drop of blood or mucous and is suitable for use at the point of care and in traditional healthcare settings.

David Ho, Hememics' cofounder, said in a statement that the company has been working for years to develop a platform that could be adapted in days and scaled in a few weeks to counter emerging epidemics, such as COVID-19.