May 4, 2020: Posted by Mohamed Kahna
The French pharmaceutical group Sanofi has just signed a partnership with the small Californian start-up Luminostics, in order to develop a coronavirus screening test, to be carried out by oneself from one’s smartphone.
Until a vaccine capable of ending the pandemic is found, the fight against the coronavirus requires rapid identification of infected people. With this in mind, the pharmaceutical giant Sanofi (the world’s third-largest healthcare group) has just joined forces with Luminostics, a young Californian start-up founded in 2014, to set up a self-test for Covid-19 screening on smartphones.
The development of this extraordinary application should start in the coming days, with the aim of being operational in the last quarter of 2020. The future self-test will have the advantage of being easily available to the general public – provided they have a mobile phone – but also offer a near-immediate result, without any contact with healthcare personnel, thus reducing the risk of transmission of the virus.
How does it work?
In concrete terms, how will this self-test work? The technology of the start-up allows the presence of the Covid-19 to be revealed by the camera and the flash of the phone, controlled by an iOS/Android application, in addition to an adapter.
This intelligent chemiluminescent signal detection device (or luminescent nanomaterials) will then reveal the presence of pathogens.
«The person who wants to do their own screening will use the adapter of our design, to be attached to their smartphone,” explains Bala Raja, CEO and co-founder of Luminostics. They will take a sample of saliva, urine or blood themselves, put it in the adapter and then press the phone icon to launch the application. Depending on the case, the result will appear between 10 and 30 minutes later. »
Sanofi multiplies partnerships
A true technological and medical feat accessible to all, based on the innovative technology of the start-up based in San José, near San Francisco. The principle of this adapter has already proved its worth and was rewarded last October, at the American medical trade fair, with the Rapid Test Innovation Award.
« Winning this award was a real highlight of our work,” says Raja. Our team worked hard to prove the high sensitivity and clinical validity of our test platform. We then sought contacts and partnerships in the diagnostic industry. And then the Covid-19 crisis came along, which increased the interest in our screening method. »
As Luminostics had already demonstrated the effectiveness of the test in the detection of viral diseases such as herpes and certain STDs, Sanofi very quickly proposed a collaboration agreement to develop a screening solution for coronavirus, with high sensitivity and specificity, based on respiratory samples.
“This project could be an important milestone in our fight against Covid-19,” said Alan Main, Executive Vice President, Consumer Health of Sanofi, in a statement. This test could allow everyone to know within minutes whether or not they are infected. This new project follows the announcement of our novel vaccine development partnership with GSK and demonstrates our commitment to continue to explore other ways to help resolve this pandemic situation. »
As soon as the development of the application is complete (and subject to applicable regulatory approvals), Sanofi will activate its global distribution network to deploy the product worldwide. Everyone will then be able to detect the virus as early as possible and take the necessary measures to receive treatment and avoid contaminating those around them.