Imperial spin-out launches robotic COVID-19 PCR-based tests

Salient Bio was founded by former team members of Imperial College’s London BioFoundry, which accelerates the commercialisation of synthetic biology research and technology

Salient Bio has announced the commercial roll out of its COVID-19 mass testing platform.

With continuous testing vital for high human contact industries such as food preparation, factory work construction and education, Salient Bio says its offering facilitates COVID-secure environments, with a same day results notification.

The limited early rollout of the platform has yielded partnerships with companies in the financial, sports and entertainment sectors, among others.

Despite promising vaccine developments, there will still be a lag as countries cope with the logistical challenge of vaccinating enough of the population.

Furthermore, Duke University’s Global Health Institute highlights that enough cover for the global population may take until 2024 to be realized – a factor which accentuates the continuing need for quick, affordable and gold standard testing.

The platform is reagent agnostic, meaning that disruption in supply chains can be mitigated by a shift to different reagent suppliers without it calling for wholesale infrastructure change at Salient’s labs, the company says.

The company will have capacity to conduct rapid STI tests by the second half of 2021, along with a wide range of other non-seasonal bacterial and fungal infections.

Dr Marta Ciechonska, co-founder of Salient Bio, said: “Without secure and regular testing, it is impossible for companies to operate at full productivity and employees to have peace of mind. That is why we’re delighted to have developed a solution that can give interaction and labour-based industries the ability to ensure a COVID safe environment efficiently and affordably. Beyond COVID-19, we are also excited at the prospect of using our platform to expand our suite of testing into STIs or other infectious diseases such as influenza. Not only will Salient Labs be equipped to cater for this with its robotic platform allowing for large scale testing, but it will also help usher in a post COVID world that will see great demand for proactive diagnosis by leveraging technologies such as NGS.”

Dr Miles Priestman, co-founder of Salient Bio, said: “With the rollout of vaccines likely to be staggered, rapid and accurate mass testing will play a vital role in the coming months in our immediate fight against COVID. Yet existing diagnostic labs often involve error prone manual processes – there is a huge opportunity to reinvent how they operate from the ground up. Using state of the art robotics and bespoke software development we hope to do just this, bringing significant cost and operational efficiency gains to help bring diagnostic labs fully into the 21st century.”

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