CARB-X grants funding to develop low-cost STI testing

Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) has announced it will award up to US$1 million to diagnostics and health technology company Scout to demonstrate proof-of-concept and feasibility ahead of development of a new point-of-care test – STI Scout.

The test will detect and differentiate between Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis. STI Scout is quick and inexpensive, with a turnaround time of 30 minutes and costs anticipated to be less than half of other options.

Additionally, STI Scout can use either first void urine or vaginal swabs, and future tests will be able to guide therapy for gonorrhoea treatment based on antibiotic susceptibility. STI Scout uses the Scout Hub (pictured above) to run and the Scout Connect mobile app, which provides instructions, tracks results, and eventually will allow patients to connect digitally to a healthcare provider.

Scout is leveraging its patented Loop-de-Loop chemistry, a proven isothermal technology that was validated for highly accurate SARS-CoV-2 detection with Scout’s system, which has an FDA Emergency Use Authorization for point-of-care settings and an authorisation for use in over-the-counter (OTC) settings pending. The CARB-X award will help Scout expand its test menu to offer simple and efficient point-of-care testing at STI clinics and urgent care centres and as a potential future option, an at-home test for STIs.

Decentralising testing could greatly benefit patients, particularly in low-resource settings, as clinics and urgent care centres could have fast, accurate, and affordable tests enabling same-day results which would expedite appropriate treatment. Notably, the low-cost design of the consumables and simple-to-use interface could enable Scout’s test to be used globally, expanding access to N. gonorrhoeae testing to the lowest levels of the healthcare system including in LMICs. With further development, the Scout system tests also could be used at home, which is especially valuable among patient populations that are testing routinely.

“There is a need for affordable, accurate, and easy-to-use tests that expand access to testing for and proper treatment of Neisseria gonorrhoeae to urgent care centres, STI clinics, and the like,” said Erin Duffy, PhD, R&D Chief of CARB-X. “Given the prevalence of gonorrhoea globally, and the growing prevalence of drug-resistant gonorrhoea, to diagnose quickly and affordably would allow physicians at all levels of the healthcare system to treat rapidly with the most appropriate therapy. The impact of a test like Scout’s could be vast.”

When CARB-X was founded in 2016, the early-stage antibiotic pipeline was stalled. Since then, CARB-X has supported 101 R&D projects in 13 countries, and CARB-X product developers have made tremendous progress: 18 projects have advanced into or completed clinical trials; 12 remain active in clinical development, including late-stage clinical trials; and two diagnostic products have reached the market. Additionally, at least nine product developers with active R&D projects already have secured advanced development partnerships which can help support their clinical development after leaving the CARB-X portfolio.


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