Sanofi and Luminostics Plan to Develop Smartphone-based COVID-19 Test


Sanofi is increasing its odds to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 through a new partnership with Luminostics. The two companies will evaluate a smartphone-based self-testing solution for COVID-19, using Luminostics’ innovative technology and Sanofi’s clinical research abilities.

The two companies have a goal of providing a smartphone-based solution that eliminates the current need for healthcare professional administration or laboratory tests. The companies are aiming to provide a consumer-based test that can detect the COVID-19 virus with high sensitivity and specificity from respiratory samples. Sanofi and Luminostics hope the test will provide results within 30 minutes. The test will be based on Luminostics’ technology that uses a consumer smartphone’s optics, controlled by an iOS/Android app paired with an inexpensive adapter, in combination with “glow-in-the-dark” nanochemistry and signal processing artificial intelligence.

Terms of the deal were not announced, but both parties expect to execute a final collaboration agreement including a plan for accelerated ramp-up of necessary manufacturing capabilities.

Alan Main, head of Sanofi Consumer Healthcare, said the partnership with Luminostics is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to battle COVID-19, which has infected more than 2 million people across the globe, including 639,733 in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard.

“The development of a self-testing solution with Luminostics could help provide clarity to an individual – in minutes – on whether or not they are infected,” Main said in a statement.

For Sanofi, the partnership with Luminostics comes only days after the company struck a deal with GlaxoSmithKline to develop an adjuvanted vaccine for COVID-19. The companies plan to begin clinical trials later this year and, if the vaccine meets its goals, the medication could be available in the second half of 2021. Sanofi will combine its S-protein COVID-19 antigen, which is based on recombinant DNA technology, with GSK’s pandemic adjuvant technology to develop the vaccine candidate. 

Main said Sanofi has been striking multiple development deals focused on COVID-19 in order to provide multiple options to solve the pandemic.

In addition to the deal with GSK, Sanofi teamed up with Translate Bio to develop a novel messenger RNA vaccine against the virus and is also working with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to advance a novel COVID-19 vaccine candidate. That agreement calls for Sanofi to initiate the development of a recombinant, protein-based vaccine candidate against COVID-19. Sanofi is also working with its longtime partner Regeneron to assess the efficacy of rheumatoid arthritis drug Kevzara against COVID-19.

Regarding the deal with Luminostics, Sanofi said it has become obvious that “rapid, reliable mass testing is one of the key strategies for successful containment of a pandemic outbreak.” There are some point-of-care tests, such as Abbott’s five-minute test that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under Emergency Use Authorization. But, there are no reliable over-the-counter tests as of yet. Sanofi hopes the smartphone test could be available to the general public before the end of 2020.

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