Like many other philanthropies, COVID Lateral was created as an LLC rather than a foundation. This allows us to operate more nimbly in the face of a rapidly evolving pandemic. We’re thus able to support both companies and non-profits. It was more expensive on our end, as the tax benefits were lost, but it was the right thing to do.
Today, our focus is entirely on point-of-care diagnostics. These are the tests that are so simple that they have the potential to someday be approved for at-home use. Not only does the sample collection occur on site, but so does the sample processing. There is no involvement of a central lab. COVID Lateral is leaving the work of developing the reagents to other teams of scientists. Our focus is entirely on the platforms and hardware necessary to run and read out those reactions. There are two paths:
Leading these methods are lateral flow assays (LFAs). Common inexpensive drug store pregnancy and cholesterol tests are examples of what are often referred to as “paper tests.” We would like to make COVID-19 detection LFAs just as common. In order to do so, we have taken two steps. First, we developed a strong relationship with the US LFA development firm with the world’s most sensitive platform LFA readout strip. Next, we developed a relationship with the owners of the largest independent US LFA manufacturing plant, with 1M tests/day of manufacturing capacity. Currently, we are pulling together the informal scientific advisory board for that manufacturing company.
On a longer timeline, we are supporting scientists who aim to use hardware, instead of LFAs, to read out the results of virus detection tests known as LAMP and LAMP-type isothermal assays. Multiplex versions of this chemistry for use at home would require a very low cost ($20), very simple, reusable, handheld isothermal heater with a two-channel fluorescence reader component. So, we are currently supporting a team that is building these.
Lastly, we look at other relevant technology, such as advanced sample collection technology.
We are happy to talk about collaborating. Contact us here.