Our Innovation Analysts recently looked into emerging technologies and up-and-coming startups working on diagnostics test kits to use during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Heat Map: 5 Top Diagnostic Tests For The Coronavirus Pandemic
We use a data-driven startup scouting approach to identify the most relevant solutions globally. The Global Startup Heat Map below highlights 5 interesting examples out of 106 relevant solutions. We analyzed technology-driven diagnostic test kits that can be employed globally. GenMarkDx, XCR Diagnostics, SensDx, Aperiomics, and MiRXES develop 5 top solutions to watch out for.
GenMarkDx – Multiplex Diagnostics
Multiplex diagnostics solutions simultaneously test for a wide range of pathogens. This enables clinicians to screen for a large number of pathogens in samples and allows early detection of viral or bacterial outbreaks. During a pandemic, these solutions accurately detect the presence of the causal pathogen, as well as any other infections that may exacerbate the condition of specific patients.
GenMarkDx is a Canadian company that provides multiplex molecular diagnostic test kits. Their eSensor technology is based on competitive DNA hybridization and electrochemical detection. It minimizes the chances of sample contamination and reduces testing time by eliminating time-consuming preparation steps. Recently, the FDA issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the company’s ePlex® SARS-CoV-2, a diagnostic test for the novel coronavirus (nCoV).
XCR Diagnostics – Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR)
Traditional testing methods take anywhere from hours to days before the results are available to patients. However, rapid diagnosis is necessary to contain the spread of a viral infection during a pandemic, such as a coronavirus outbreak. Solutions that target nucleic acids, such as qPCR, provide the rapid testing needed in such situations.
The US-based startup XCR Diagnostics offers simple, easy-to-use molecular diagnostics solutions. Their patented technology, Xtreme Chain Reaction, brings the sensitivity of qPCR to Point of Care solutions. The startup develops Pyramid, a portable testing system that assays a large number of pathogens, such as influenza, enteroviruses, and coronaviruses. In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, they are developing a diagnostic test for COVID-19.
SensDx – Ultrasensitive Electrodes
Infection from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) produces some of the same symptoms, such as coughing and fever, like the flu or other viral infections. While devices like smart thermometers and oximeters help people monitor these symptoms from home, there is a pressing need for at-home diagnostic tests that allow patients to get insights on their condition. Ultrasensitive electrodes enable home diagnostic tests that determine the cause of these symptoms.
Poland-based startup SensDx develops digital diagnostics solutions that enable remote healthcare. The startup uses ultra-sensitive electrodes modified with biological material to detect the presence of bacteria and viruses. Their flu virus detection kit Flu SensDx detects the virus at an early stage and prevents it from spreading. Multi SensDx, another product from SensDx, detects multiple bacteria and viruses to determine the cause of upper respiratory infections. Currently, the startup is working to develop an ultrafast diagnostics test for COVID-19.
Aperiomics – Deep Metagenomic Sequencing
Symptoms are informative before the detection of a particular pathogen at the onset of an outbreak, but they aren’t specific. Deep metagenomic sequencing identifies the source, if known, of every nucleic acid sequence in a sample. Thus, it is useful to detect previously unknown strains, like the novel coronavirus at the start of the current global pandemic, or hard to diagnose strains.
The US-based startup Aperiomics offers sequencing-based solutions to diagnose infections. The startup combines deep metagenomic sequencing and proprietary software, Xplore-PATHOSM, to diagnose every known bacteria, fungus, or virus in any sample, serving clinicians, patients, and researchers working on pathogens. Aperiomics has also developed a diagnostic test, Xplore-COVID-19 (PDF), to tackle the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
MiRXES – MicroRNA Diagnostics
The accuracy of testing methods is very crucial during an outbreak. A false-negative would mean that an infected individual continues to spread the virus, whereas false-positive individual risks actually picking up an infection at the hospital. MicroRNA diagnostics have a very high sensitivity and specificity and are, thus, preferred over culture-based methods.
MiRXES is a Singapore-based startup developing microRNA biomarkers for diagnostics applications to serve physicians and scientists. The solution combines microRNA-specific reverse transcription (RT) primers and nested quantitative PCR primer pairs to provide unparalleled specificity and sensitivity in their tests. Recently, they have mass-produced diagnostic test kits for COVID-19 for use in Singapore.
How To Flatten The Curve?
This is an unprecedented situation for many of us across the world. The SARS outbreak in the early 2000s claimed 774 lives. That toll was enough to drive research & development and easier healthcare solutions. The fact that several mobile health, e-health, remote health, and diagnostics startups and companies are able to respond during a real epidemic is encouraging. With thousands of deaths already, we expect to see numerous new companies offering technology-driven solutions to help doctors, nurses, other health workers, and the larger public.