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The 2-year-old Cambridge, Massachusetts startup is based out of The Engine at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and had been working on developing technology for rapid diagnosis of diseases such as dengue and zika. Now, of course, E25Bio is turning its attention to creating early and accessible tests to diagnose the novel and rapidly-spreading coronavirus, which has caused a global pandemic.
Its goal is to be able to distribute more rapid, accurate and affordable detectors for coronavirus that can be distributed at scale across geographies. The startup plans to begin testing on human samples next week. The tests should be available for sale – at a cost of less than $30 – by late April depending on the regulatory timeline, according to a company spokesperson.
“We ultimately want to be able to have our tests at hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies (for at-home tests), however we are still exploring the details of potential distribution partnerships,” the spokesperson told me via email.
E25Bio’s rapid diagnostic tests use nanoparticle technology to capture virus or viral proteins secreted into the human body. They are based on technology developed by Dr. Irene Bosch and Dr. Lee Gehrke, the Hermann von Helmholtz Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at MIT.
“The same way a hormone is detected on a pregnancy test, our diagnostics provides doctors and patients with results in 15 minutes or less,” said Bosch, who serves as CTO of E25Bio.
In the wake of the chaos, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced it would fast track diagnostics for the virus through its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), opening the door for both public and private institutions to attack the problem.
Dr. Bobby Brooke Herrera, co-founder and CEO of E25Bio, said the global public health system will require “a concentrated, unified strategy to better respond to the current pandemic.”
Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla said that “in this time of crisis we need every effort to get testing at scale on the market.”
“We are excited about what E25Bio is capable of shipping in a short amount of time: a test that is significantly cheaper, more affordable, and available at-home for consumers without having to rely on primary medical services and can lessen the load on our healthcare systems,” he said in a written statement.
The new funding will go toward research and development, clinical studies and scaling the company’s launch for diagnostic tests upon receiving EUA approval. E25Bio had raised a $2.3 million seed round last August, according to Crunchbase.
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