Sherlock Bio evaluates over-the-counter rapid test for STIs, aims launch in 2025

By Thomson Reuters May 30, 2024 | 7:02 AM

By Bhanvi Satija

(Reuters) – Sherlock Bio said on Thursday it had begun a trial of its over-the-counter rapid test for detecting sexually transmitted infections (STI) such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, and aims to launch it by mid-2025.

The Massachusetts-based startup expects to become the first to launch a prescription-free rapid test for the infections, which affected 2.3 million people in the United States in 2022. Current options include lab tests from Quest and LabCorp, among others.

“It’s the first ever time where a lay user can use this in a home environment and get the exact same quality of results that they would get if they visited a doctor’s office,” Sherlock Bio CEO Bryan Dechairo said in an interview.

The company plans to recruit 2,500 sexually active volunteers at 20 study sites across the United States to test the accuracy of its CRISPR-based test compared to commonly used lab tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea.

The test relies on self collected swabs – from a vagina or the tip of a penis – and could provide results within 30 minutes, compared to a waiting time of 24 hours or more in lab tests that also need to be prescribed and booked.

Current STI testing is especially cumbersome for men, as it may involve urethral or an invasive swab – which can be painful and may discourage some consumers to get tested, according to the company.

Privately held Sherlock, which is backed by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Novalis Lifesciences, was the first to gain authorization for a CRISPR-based COVID-19 test in 2020.

The CRISPR gene editing tool, which won its inventors the Nobel Prize in 2020, is a type of molecular “scissor” technology that scientists can use to edit DNA.

(Reporting by Bhanvi Satija in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)