SummerBio Launches High-Volume, Affordable Molecular Test to Detect COVID-19
- SummerBio streamlined and automated the entire process of high-quality RT-PCR testing to reduce cost and massively increase test volumes to meet the needs of the pandemic
- Comprehensive testing programs at UCLA and Los Angeles Unified School District include SummerBio’s COVID-19 test
- $7.3 million equity financing included Intel Capital, Capricorn Investment Group, 8VC and Toyota AI Ventures
MENLO PARK, Calif., Nov. 18, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- SummerBio LLC, a diagnostic company providing affordable, rapid, high-volume COVID-19 testing, today announced it has partnered with the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Los Angeles Unified School District (Los Angeles Unified) to support comprehensive SARS-CoV-2 testing. The SummerBio SARS-CoV-2 Test is easily administered by a healthcare professional using a gentle nasal swab, and individual results are usually ready within 24 hours of collection and automatically sent to customers in real-time. SummerBio’s test is a high sensitivity real-time RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) assay that is conducted in its CLIA-certified laboratory.
By the end of 2020, SummerBio plans to increase the testing capacity of its COVID-19 testing mega-lab to reach approximately 100,000 tests per day. Currently, the state of California is processing in aggregate approximately 145,000 RT-PCR COVID-19 tests per day1.
SummerBio’s unique approach to detecting COVID-19 includes robotics and automated, high-throughput liquid handling systems that have reduced process inefficiencies and supply bottlenecks resulting in rapid turnaround time and significantly lower cost per test compared to conventional RT-PCR testing platforms.
The Company also announced that it has raised $7.3 million in an equity financing round from investors including Intel Capital, Capricorn Investment Group, 8VC, Toyota AI Ventures, Joby Trust, Dayton Family Enterprises, and Sciarra Management Trust. Srini Ananth, Investment Director at Intel Capital, and Ajit Singh, Partner at Artiman Ventures, have joined the SummerBio board.
SummerBio’s CEO, Guido Baechler, who spent two decades with Roche Molecular Diagnostics, said, “Broad and rapid testing for COVID-19 is absolutely critical for everyone to more safely return to school, work and a more normal life. Our goal is to provide reliable and rapid COVID-19 testing, and to do so at unprecedented affordability.”
SummerBio is conducting COVID-19 testing for UCLA, which has the largest undergraduate enrollment in the UC system, and Los Angeles Unified, the country’s second largest school district. Summer Bio was selected as Los Angeles Unified’s testing partner during a selection process that included evaluating 22 various companies. In a New England Journal of Medicinearticle2, Los Angeles Unified’s COVID-19 testing program was referred to as “notable” in ambition and uniqueness compared to most school districts whose reopening plans have not included large-scale testing.
“SummerBio’s COVID-19 test is a key pillar in our plan to create a new standard of safety in public education. They are able to provide us with a high number of tests and we get results back overnight to determine whether students and teachers may return to school the very next morning. To date, SummerBio has processed more than 130,000 tests and provided results on time,” said Austin Beutner, Superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District.
“SummerBio is advancing low cost, high-volume RT-PCR testing for COVID-19 and has streamlined the entire process, making it easier and faster for people to obtain results,” said Nick Washburn, Senior Managing Director at Intel Capital. “SummerBio’s team has worked at an outstanding pace these past few months to help solve a crucial testing problem. Intel Capital is proud to work with a team that has made such progress to accelerate the speed and quantity of tests.”
Baechler added, “We have a team of molecular biologists, laboratory scientists, software and automation engineers, and public health experts from across the laboratory diagnostics industry to uniquely design a streamlined testing process that adds automation at almost every stage while using an extremely precise assay—the result is an affordable gold-standard RT-PCR testing solution for COVID-19.”
About the SummerBio SARS-CoV-2 Testing Solution
Conducted in its CLIA-certified laboratory, SummerBio’s COVID-19 test is based on a RT-PCR assay developed by an expert team at Columbia University. Using this highly-sensitive assay, SummerBio created an end-to-end COVID-19 testing system that uses robotics and automated liquid handling to significantly decrease both turnaround time and costs compared to traditional testing solutions. In the Company’s studies of clinical samples, the SummerBio SARS-CoV-2 Test has shown 100% (93.28-100.00%, 95% CI) diagnostic sensitivity and 100% (96.19-100.00%, 95% CI) diagnostic specificity. Key steps to SummerBio’s approach include:
- Subject registration at collection sites via an automated identification capture system (simplifies information collection and increases data integrity);
- Sample collection via a novel test kit including nasal swab that is easy and painless (eases the in-person sample collection burden);
- Sample transportation logistics managed entirely by SummerBio from collection sites to the CLIA-certified lab (ensures sample integrity and timely delivery); and
- Sample testing on a fully automated, high-throughput testing platform capable of processing tens of thousands of tests per day without pooling.
SummerBio is a diagnostics company committed to rapid, affordable, high-volume COVID-19 testing. To meet the needs of a pandemic, SummerBio streamlined the entire process of diagnostic testing including developing an automated identification recording system, a novel sample collection kit, state-of-the-art robotics, and automated liquid handling systems. The result is a dramatic increase in throughput and a significant decrease in cost compared to existing RT-PCR testing solutions—all while maintaining the highest quality possible. SummerBio was founded by life science automation industry veterans with decades of experience building and operating large-scale laboratory robotics, combined with world-class diagnostic molecular biologists, laboratory scientists, quality assurance, public health experts, software engineers, designers and logistics and operations executives. For more information, please visit the Company's website at https://www.summer.bio.
Source: SummerBio LLC
1 Source: https://data.ca.gov/dataset/covid-19-testing State of California Open Data Portal; data downloaded Nov. 17, 2020. Thirty-day average calculated using the period Oct. 18 to Nov. 16, 2020.
2 NEJM.org, October 21, 2020. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp2028209.