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DARPA program managers said they are developing different testing modalities that are crucially linked in their objective to facilitate more comprehensive and faster testing.
Using a Cas13-based method, researchers at UCSB detected eight asymptomatic cases, while a single discrepant case had low estimated viral load.
The diagnostic is composed of Agilent's Bravo automation workstation and Mammoth's DETECTR BOOST SARS-CoV-2 assay.
The contract was awarded under DARPA's Detect It with Gene Editing Technologies program, which aims to create a device to detect at least 10 pathogens.
The pace of development for CRISPR-based infectious disease assays increased as the pandemic progressed, more funding became available, and collaboration accelerated.
The two new tests, which have the capability to quantify a patient's viral load, have been designed without external RNA extraction or amplification steps.
The funding will help the company further develop its INSPECTR molecular diagnostic platform into a test that can be used in various settings.
The deal complements rights Sherlock already holds from the Broad Institute, which developed Sherlock's platform.
The researchers created a test-on-a-chip technology that takes about 35 minutes to produce a result, and may partner with Ford to produce the chips.
The CRISPR-based test uses Mammoth's DETECTR BOOST platform and will be compatible with both nasal swab and saliva samples.