Sherlock Biosciences Announces Discovery of Novel CRISPR-Cas Enzymes, Enabling Simple Multiplex Diagnostic Solutions

December 07, 2020

Developed in Partnership with Rosetta Biosciences, Discovery Enables Simultaneous Detection of Multiple Targets, Furthering Next Generation of Diagnostics

Cambridge, Mass., December 7, 2020 – Sherlock Biosciences, an Engineering Biology company dedicated to making diagnostic testing better, faster and more affordable, today announced the discovery of novel thermostable CRISPR-associated (Cas) enzymes in partnership with researchers at Rosetta Biosciences. Thermostable Cas proteins enable real-time detection of RNA and/or DNA targets and, when used in tandem with Sherlock’s licensed Cas12 and Cas13 enzymes, advance the simultaneous detection of multiple RNA and/or DNA targets in a single test—a process known as multiplexing.

“Our additions to Sherlock’s CRISPR platform advance the ability to rapidly program and develop diagnostics that are capable of detecting many targets in a single test,” said William J. Blake, Ph.D., chief technology officer at Sherlock Biosciences. “With the discovery of these novel Cas enzymes, we have upgraded our CRISPR toolkit with thermostable options that will have broad utility for the development of our SHERLOCK™ platform, including in point-of-care settings.”

Developed by company co-founders and licensed exclusively from the Broad Institute, SHERLOCK (Specific High-sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter unLOCKing) is a method for smart amplicon detection. When specific sequences of DNA and/or RNA are present, the CRISPR enzymes are activated and, much like a pair of scissors, start cutting nearby genetic material, releasing a fluorescent signal that indicates a positive result. The first application of SHERLOCK technology is the Sherlock™ CRISPR SARS-CoV-2 test kit, marking the first FDA-authorized use of CRISPR technology.

“We were incredibly excited to work with the team at Sherlock Biosciences to apply our AI engine and protein design platform to develop a strong pipeline of novel Cas enzymes,” said Chengwei Luo, PhD, CEO at Rosetta Biosciences. “Maintaining performance by allowing amplification and detection in a single reaction, these novel CRISPR-Cas enzymes enable real-time detection with high sensitivity and specificity—key features for broad application across a wide range of diagnostic needs.”

“Not only is the discovery of these new Cas enzymes important as we continue to improve performance of our SHERLOCK technology; it is also a remarkable testament to the ingenuity of the Sherlock team and our in-house capabilities to identify and validate novel CRISPR-Cas systems that could lead to a new generation of diagnostics,” said Rahul Dhanda, co-founder, president and CEO of Sherlock Biosciences. “We are grateful for Rosetta Biosciences’ partnership and look forward to sharing more information about our discovery as we advance more products to improve diagnostic testing.”

About Sherlock Biosciences

Sherlock Biosciences is dedicated to making molecular diagnostics better, faster and more affordable through Engineering Biology platforms. The company is developing applications of SHERLOCK™, a CRISPR-based method to detect and quantify specific genetic sequences, and INSPECTRTM, a Synthetic Biology-based molecular diagnostics platform that is instrument-free. SHERLOCK and INSPECTR can be used in virtually any setting without complex instrumentation, opening up a wide range of potential applications in areas including precision oncology, infection identification, food safety, at-home tests and disease detection in the field. In May 2020, the company received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its Sherlock™ CRISPR SARS-CoV-2 kit, the first FDA-authorized use of CRISPR technology. For more information, visit 


Katie Engleman, 1AB