Wageningen University & Research (WUR), and its spinoff Scope Biosciences, have received a grant of €150,000 ($152,000) from the European Research Council (ERC).
The grant is to further research and enhance the diagnostic technology ScopeDx. This is based on CRISPR-Cas technology. Uniquely, this technology is able to quickly and accurately recognize viral or bacterial RNA.
Scope Biosciences will use the grant to further improve the technology and hopes to independently apply for an even larger ERC grant in 2023.
Late last year Scope Biosciences raised €1 million ($1 million) funding from another company based in the Netherlands, GenDx. The company specializes in next generation sequencing products for transplant diagnostics.
Jurre Steens, one of the founders of Scope Biosciences, said: “A practical application is for instance the recognition of the COVID virus. With regular PCR tests it can take up to several hours before it is certain that the infection indeed is COVID. ScopeDx can do that in half an hour. And the same applies to other human infections, where sometimes every minute counts. So it’s potentially even a life-saving technique.”
Other applications of the technique lie in the early detection of infections in, for example, seeds or plants.
Steens said: “Of course you want the seed that a farmer sows to be free of infections. Otherwise you know in advance that there will be less or no harvest. With ScopeDx it is relatively easy to detect RNA from known diseases.”
John van der Oost, one of the founders of the CRISPR Cas technology, said: “It is very special to see a new generation of scientists working with CRISPR. CRISPR technology still is a relatively virgin territory. So it is exciting to come up with new applications for the technology. And it’s great to see Scope Biosciences’ colleagues grow from students to fellow adventurers on that journey.”
About Scope Biosciences
Scope Biosciences is a Dutch company, specializing in the development of molecular diagnostics using CRISPR-Cas. It is a spin-off of Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and was founded in 2020 by Steens, Niek Savelkoul, Bart Scholten and Stijn Prinsen. The company received support from entrepreneurs Math Kohnen and Wil Hazenberg. The idea to set up Scope Biosciences originated in close collaboration with the Laboratory of Microbiology, at the department of Agrotechnology and Food Sciences at Wageningen University & Research.
The ScopeDx technology was co-developed with Wageningen University & Research, which is exclusively licensed to Scope Biosciences.