A Massively Parallel RNA virus (e.g. COVID-19) Diagnostic Test

­A Massively Parallel RNA virus (e.g. COVID-19) Diagnostic Test

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that the ease and capacity of testing is an essential component to reducing both the spread of the infection and burden on the healthcare system. We have devised a simple, high throughput testing apparatus that has the capability for multiplexing at the sample and target level.
Market Opportunity
Current diagnostic assays for active or prior infection by SARS-CoV-2 rely on the detection of viral RNA or antibodies to the virus in samples collected from a patient’s upper respiratory tract by saliva or nasal swab. Yet studies show a lack of correlation between viral loads in the upper respiratory tract and symptoms in the lower respiratory tract, e.g., coughing. Viral loads in aerosolized particles, however, are correlated with severity of cough symptoms. Because lower respiratory tract involvement is often a precursor to more severe COVID outcomes, there is a need for a more direct and medically relevant RNA virus-sampling approach that focuses on the exhaled breath.
Innovation and Meaningful Advantages
Our novel handheld device, called a BubblerTM, captures aerosolized RNA-containing particles from a subject’s breath. The breath is bubbled through an oil/aqueous solution/emulsion that contain reagents for carrying out an enzymatic reverse transcriptase (RT) reaction. The samples can be pooled for analysis by a massively parallel assay. The device can also be used to screen for a variety of viruses in settings such as hospital ERs and airports by attaching a vacuum pump to an air vent. Eventually, the Bubbler could also be used at home, decreasing the burden on clinical testing facilities.

Commercial Development: Current State and Next Steps
Our first technology downregulates OPN3 protein expression, OPN3 gene expression, and/or OPN3 activation in the hypothalamus. A second alternate, technology downregulates them in the fat tissue, pituitary gland, or other parts of the body that indirectly signal the hypothalamus, resulting in a similar upregulation of hypothalamic melanocortin receptor signaling. Our current technology can be used to treat glucose intolerance, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. 

Collaboration Opportunity
We are interested in licensing our invention to an investor-backed startup.

Principal Investigator
Will Fairbrother, PhD
Professor of Biology
Brown University
Brown Tech ID #3057

IP Information
2021-10-14 PCT/US2021/026919; published.

Duan C, et al., Efficient Detection of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) from Exhaled Breath, J. Molecular Diagnostics

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Brown Technology Innovations
350 Eddy Street - Box 1949
Providence, RI 02903
William Fairbrother
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