CRISPR startup Mammoth Biosciences will partner with GlaxoSmithKline’s (NYSE:GSK) consumer healthcare division to develop a home-based diagnostic capable of detecting active SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The collaboration will use Mammoth Biosciences’ CRISPR-based Detectr platform to design “guide-RNA” that can identify and signal the presence of viral strands obtained through a simple nasal swab, according to Mammoth Biosciences CEO Trevor Martin.
Martin said he couldn’t speak to the specifics of the deal with GSK.
“This is really a long-term play in the next generation of diagnostics,” he said in an interview with MassDevice. “One of the powers of the CRISPR-based platform is you can switch out the guide-DNA, so over the long term you can imagine using the same platform for a variety of diseases.”
The company intends to file for an FDA emergency use authorization for the test by the end of 2020. If it’s approved, Martin said he can envision the test being sold directly to consumers or through physicians. The test should be able to produce a result in less than 20 minutes.
Based in South San Francisco, Mammoth Biosciences was co-founded by CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna. The company has raised roughly $70 million from investors including Mayfield, NFX, and 8VC, Decheng Capital and individual investors including entrepreneur Brook Byers, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Jeff Huber, founding CEO and vice Chair of GRAIL, Inc.