Seven companies have won grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop better and faster testing to help fight the spread of the Coronavirus. Six of the seven companies are here in California.
“This is a very substantial investment to try to speed up the availability of COVID-19 testing to try to deal with this pandemic,” said Francis Collins, NIH Director, during a virtual briefing to reporters.
Mammoth Biosciences, Inc. and Fluidigm Corp. are two San Francisco-based companies that will get a portion of the $1.5 billion in emergency funding provided by Congress back in April. Mammoth will base its testing using CRISPR, DNA editing technology that can pinpoint a specific location in a genetic code. Fluidigm has developed a saliva test that could be a game-changer for ease and rapid testing.
Quidell Corp. and Mesa Biotech, headquartered in San Diego, also received funding. Quidell’s new antigen test can get a result in as little as 15 minutes, and Mesa’s hand-held device can produce results in as little as 30 minutes.
Helix OpCo LLC is located in San Mateo and plans to ramp up processing to up to 100,000 nasal swabs by year’s end using next generation sequencing, and Ginko Bioworks in Boston is scaling up to do the the same. The final company, Talis Biomedical located in Melo Park, California has a test which uses a multiplexed cartridge to detect the virus with results in 30 minutes.