Caspr Biotech is developing a CRISPR based platform for precision diagnostics. CRISPR is the defence mechanism of bacteria and archaea from viruses. Caspr uses proprietary Cas enzymes and novel systems. The company is developing kits inform doctors and patients about health conditions in less than 30 minutes. Caspr is developing diagnostic systems for viruses, bacteria and genetic mutations.
One of Caspr’s aims is to reduce the time it takes to diagnose antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in patients in order to reduce time patients spend in isolation and using wide-spectrum antibiotics. Using their system based on CRISPR/Cas, the company designs guide RNA to detect DNA sequences in superbugs and their Cas enzymes trigger a signal in less than an hour. Caspr’s diagnostic system has been used to detect Dengue virus in a hospital in Argentina. The company is developing diagnostics tests for flu, respiratory infections, sepsis and urinary tract infections. Caspr Biotech created a portable kit, similar to a pregnancy test, that detects coronavirus. The prototype kit had not yet been validated by health authorities as of February, 2020.
Caspr discovered two novel Cas enzymes with one of them in the Cas9 family and the other in the Cas12 family. The company searched unpublished data collected by their partners in extreme environments in Argentina, such as volcanos, high altitude deserts, hot springs and Antarctica. Likely due to the environment where it evolved, their Cas12 enzyme shows evidence of increased stability at high temperatures, which may give an advantage in diagnostics uses.
Caspr is developing a portable diagnostic kit for detection of SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19 that uses Cas12a. After reverse transcription of viral RNA and amplification, the CRISPR-Cas12a system detects SARS-CoV-2 sequences. Detection of a sequence match results in single stranded DNA degradation, the reaction that is used as the readout signal.
- BiotechnologyBiotechnology in a broad sense includes the use of living systems and organisms, as well as their parts for the development or production of products.
- CRISPR/Cas ToolsClustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) and CRISPR associated (Cas) proteins perform adaptive immune functions in prokaryotic organisms defending against foreign nucleic acids such as viruses. CRISPR/Cas tools have been adapted for use in genome editing and other DNA and RNA targeting applications.
- COVID-19COVID-19 is the abbreviated name for coronavirus disease 2019, a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus strain called SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan City, China and the outbreak was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020 by the World Health Organization.