Menon Advances as Finalist in $6 Million XPRIZE Rapid COVID Testing Competition with Molecular Mirror™ Platform Technology
SAN DIEGO, Dec. 22, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Menon Biosensors, Inc. ("Menon" or the "Company"), announced today that it has advanced to the finalist round of the $6 million XPRIZE Rapid COVID Testing Competition for its development of an advanced system and method for detecting the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus. The system, known as Molecular Mirror™, is a detection technique that produces 100% accurate results within 30 minutes of bacterial and viral pathogens tests that at scale could be capable of testing upwards of 100,000 patients per day.
XPRIZE Rapid COVID Testing is a six-month competition to develop faster, cheaper and easier-to-use COVID-19 testing methods at scale. For the final round, the top 20 best-performing teams will now need to gain clinical validation from two world-class laboratories in the U.S. in order to accelerate the FDA approval process. Finalist teams will have two weeks to send their testing kits and protocols to two separate laboratories for clinical validation. After clinical validation and assessment, the top five teams selected will be awarded funds with the option to proceed to deployment. They will receive additional funding by demonstrating scalability, viability and returning data and learnings for the playbook to XPRIZE.
"The Molecular Mirror™, is a novel, minimal-cost detection platform that enables rapid visualization of an invisible enemy: the SARS-CoV-2 virus. All equipment required for the protocol is readily available in hospital settings. The platform can screen more than 100,000 patient specimens per day per MRI unit. The sensitivity is currently less than 100 viral copies per reaction with 100% specificity. Although technology is currently used in vitro, future application could involve in vivo scanning for various viral and bacterial pathogens," said Dr. Suresh Menon, Founder and President of Menon. "By utilizing existing collection stations and MRI facilities, we could screen the entire population of the U.S. within a day for active cases."
The Molecular Mirror™ assay has achieved 100% detection with no false positives in multiple double-blind tests validated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and other private clients. For this XPRIZE related work, the tests were validated in collaboration with the University of California San Diego and San Diego State University.
The Molecular Mirror™ assay achieves high sensitivity and specificity by use of magnetic nanoparticles functionalized with target-specific biomarkers that bind to specific regions of a pathogen's genome. The sample, with bound nanoparticles, is then processed to produce a change in its magnetic properties, specifically the "spin-spin relaxation time," thus producing a signal in the presence of the target of interest, in this case detecting the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This test can be conducted within any MRI machine in the world.
Currently, most available COVID-19 tests take several days to obtain results, are expensive, invasive, and may be limited due to supply chain issues. XPRIZE Rapid COVID Testing aims to meet the need to scale testing capabilities by 100-times past the current standard, the level of increase needed to more safely return to everyday activities.
"Fast, affordable and accessible testing is crucial to containing the Covid-19 pandemic and safely reopening schools, businesses and other vital institutions around the world," said Anousheh Ansari, CEO of XPRIZE. "XPRIZE Rapid COVID Testing is inspiring the best entrepreneurial and scientific teams to come together to work toward rapid, affordable Covid-19 testing at scale, and ultimately, getting the world up and running again."
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