Harvard researchers plan to sell at-home, PCR-grade COVID testing system

A cube-shaped device for COVID testing

3EO Health’s at-home COVID-19 testing device [Photo courtesy of 3EO Health}

The Harvard University researchers who developed an ultrasensitive, PCR-grade nucleic acid detection technology plan to commercialize it as a portable COVID-19 test.

Harvard Medical School professor Peng Yin, who also leads the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering’s Molecular Robotics Initiative, founded 3EO Health to sell the device.

“In order to optimize the value of testing, tests should be simple to use, affordable, rapid, and accurate,” Yin said in a news release. “When it comes to COVID at-home tests, existing antigen tests lack sensitivity, and molecular tests are expensive. We have developed a simple and rapid test platform that promises to deliver PCR-level accuracy at antigen-level cost.”

3EO Health has a worldwide exclusive license agreement for the technology through Harvard’s Office of Technology Development.

3EO Health’s CEO is Jeremy Schubert, a former Abbott Diagnostics divisional vice president. He’s joined by members of Yin’s research team, including Thomas Schaus, who is 3EO’s director of research.

“Our core nucleic acid detection technology evolved as a combination of biochemical and mechanical inventions,” Schaus said.

Yin’s team invented a molecular assay to detect SARS-CoV-2 or other pathogens with high speed, sensitivity, and specificity. The device’s reusable base unit uses single-use, pathogen-specific consumables for testing. It was prototyped at Wyss, and then 3EO Health integrated the assay and device components and prepared the design for manufacturing, cost and reliability.

Yin said he hopes the platform will be useful for other infectious diseases and other applications. The company plans to add a digital health component for telehealth appointments and prescriptions.

Yin previously co-founded five other startups — Ultivue, NuProbe Global, Torus Biosystems, Spear Bio, and Digital Biology — to commercialize technologies developed by his group at the Wyss Institute.

3EO’s name stands for three values; EveryOne, Earliest Opportunity and Exceptional Outcomes.

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