Sherlock Biosciences Announces Initial Results of Automation Study with NorDx Laboratories on CRISPR-based Test for SARS-CoV-2

June 02, 2021

Leading Clinical Laboratory Runs First-ever Successful Automation of a CRISPR Test for High-Throughput, Using Sherlock’s SARS-CoV-2 Process


Cambridge, Mass., June 2, 2021 – Sherlock Biosciences, an Engineering Biology company dedicated to making diagnostic testing better, faster and more affordable, today announced initial results from an automation study of its CRISPR-based test for SARS-CoV-2 in partnership with NorDx Laboratories, a member of MaineHealth – a recognized leader in New England and Maine’s largest integrated healthcare system. The study is the first-ever successful automation of a CRISPR test for high-throughput, and automating Sherlock’s assay enables laboratories to test clinical samples from thousands of patients a day on a single system, streamlining workflows and improving patient outcomes.

“We believe that Sherlock’s CRISPR-based technology holds promise as a potential answer to high volume testing needs,” said Robert Carlson, M.D., medical director at NorDx. “Fighting the pandemic requires testing methods that can be easily automated for high-throughput and rapidly adapt to new and emerging variants.”

The Sherlock CRISPR SARS-CoV-2 test kit is designed for use in laboratories certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA), 42 U.S.C. §263a, to perform high complexity tests. Based on the SHERLOCK method, which stands for Specific High-sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter unLOCKing, the kit works by programming a CRISPR nuclease to detect the presence of a specific genetic signature – in this case, the genetic signature for SARS-CoV-2 – in a nasal swab, nasopharyngeal swab, oropharyngeal swab or bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) specimen. When the signature is found, the CRISPR enzyme is activated and cuts reporter RNAs provided as part of the kit to release a detectable signal, yielding results in about an hour.

“Because Sherlock holds the most comprehensive IP position in CRISPR diagnostics, we are in a unique position to enable partners to achieve highly-automated and point-of-care solutions for any molecular diagnostic test” said Rahul Dhanda, co-founder, president and CEO of Sherlock Biosciences. “We are excited by these initial results and look forward to partnering with the NorDx team to further demonstrate that our robust method can be easily automated to provide a fast, user-friendly and inexpensive method for containing the pandemic through rapid and accurate detection of SARS-CoV-2.”

About Sherlock Biosciences

Sherlock Biosciences is dedicated to providing global access to the simplest and most accurate tests that empower individuals to control their own healthcare. Through its Engineering Biology platforms, the company is developing applications of SHERLOCK™, a CRISPR-based method for “smart amplicon detection,” and INSPECTR™, 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 2020, the company made history with the first FDA-authorized use of CRISPR technology. For more information visit 

About MaineHealth:

MaineHealth is a not-for-profit integrated health system in Maine and New Hampshire consisting of nine local hospital systems, a comprehensive behavioral healthcare network, diagnostic services, home health agencies, and more than 1,700 employed and independent physicians working together through an Accountable Care Organization. With close to 22,000 employees, MaineHealth is the largest health system in northern New England and provides preventive care, diagnosis and treatment to 1.1 million residents in Maine and New Hampshire. It includes Franklin Memorial Hospital/Franklin Community Health Network in Farmington, Maine, LincolnHealth in Damariscotta and Boothbay Harbor, Maine, Maine Behavioral Healthcare in South Portland, Maine, MaineHealth Care at Home in Saco, Maine, Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine, Memorial Hospital in North Conway, N.H., Mid Coast-Parkview Health in Brunswick, Maine, NorDx in Scarborough, Maine, Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County Hospital in Rockport and Belfast, Maine, Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford and Sanford, Maine, Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook, Maine, and Stephens Memorial Hospital/Western Maine Health Care in Norway. Maine. MaineHealth Affiliates include Maine General Health in Augusta and Waterville, Maine, New England Rehabilitation Hospital in Portland, Maine, and St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine. It is also a significant stakeholder in the MaineHealth Accountable Care Organization in Portland, Maine. Go to to learn more.


Katie Engleman, 1AB