NEW YORK – Sorrento Therapeutics said Tuesday that it signed a $4.6 million contract with the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to develop a rapid testing instrument that is built on repurposed components of common glucometers and capable of identifying viruses, proteins, and small molecules.
San Diego-based Sorrento said the instrument would be designed for use in response to public health threats including emerging infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistant pathogens. The firm plans to develop an adaptable, cost-effective diagnostic instrument that will target viral and bacterial antigens using its Virex subsidiary's proprietary electrochemical method of detecting bioanalytes and Sorrento's G-MAB library of human antibody sequences.
Sorrento CEO Henry Ji said the work in collaboration with the NIAID will aid preparations for the next pandemic.
"This award validates our unique approach of combining antibody development and electrochemical-based diagnostics for a rapid response to save lives and manage infectious disease outbreaks," he said.
By building the instrument on components of reusable glucometers, the firm said it will take advantage of existing infrastructure used to make tens of millions of devices per year and allow deployment of the instrument in large numbers in response to an emerging or reemerging public health threat.
"Once the diagnostic platform is developed, our unique approach can be quickly transferred to other pathogens and deployed when needed on a large scale," Scott Schaus, Virex Health's chief technology officer, said in a statement.
Sorrento acquired Virax Health in early 2022. Virax, a Boston University spinout, had been developing technologies that used enzymatic and electrochemical amplification to detect analytes in blood, and Sorrento said at the time the technology's compatibility with glucometers would allow for its use in rapid home-based tests.