Traditional lateral flow immunoassays (LFI) use high affinity antibodies to capture and detect an antigen at a test line. While the use of this technology has resulted in many rapid diagnostic assays, that have improved healthcare decision making in both resource-limited and resource-rich environments, the development process is often a multi-year endeavor. The generation of high affinity monoclonal antibodies is a rigorous process that is not only labor intensive, but also requires the use of animal resources. In an effort to reduce the time and resources necessary for development of antigen-detection assays, we have partnered with a team of academic and commercial scientists to design small molecule-based solutions for the detection of emerging infectious diseases.
Antibody selection to an antigen is driven by the mammalian immune response, which has been refined by evolution to detect molecules with both high sensitivity and specificity, making antibodies a rational choice for use diagnostic devices. Replacing antibodies in the LFI, or any other antigen detection assay, will require a methodical selection of the detection molecule.
Working in collaboration with research groups Arizona, Washington, and Nevada, a platform to assess small molecule:protein interactions is being utilized to screen specific interaction with target antigens. Candidate molecules that pass affinity criteria are being tested as capture and detection molecules in an antigen-capture format. We believe that this strategy will allow for the development of antigen capture detection assays in a fraction of the time of traditional immunoassays.
Small molecule-based detection assays have the potential to be deployed in order limit the spread of novel infectious agents, such as SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19), or pathogens that are disseminated as agents of terrorism, such as Bacillus anthracis (anthrax).
DxDiscovery has been awarded funding from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, as part of a larger award received by Northern Arizona University.
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