Sherlock Biosciences Receives $5 Million Grant to Advance INSPECTR™ Platform for COVID-19 Self-test

December 16, 2020

Funds from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Accelerate Development of Instrument-free Diagnostic Platform for Use Anywhere, Including Low- and Middle-income Countries


Cambridge, Mass., December 16, 2020 – Sherlock Biosciences, an Engineering Biology company dedicated to making diagnostic testing better, faster and more affordable, today announced it has received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the amount of $5 million to continue to advance INSPECTRTM, its instrument-free, synthetic biology-based molecular diagnostics platform.

“We are deeply grateful for the support of the Gates Foundation as we seek to empower individuals all over the world to control their own healthcare decisions by making low-cost, self-diagnostic tests available,” said William J. Blake, chief technology officer of Sherlock Biosicences. “In addition to advancing our INSPECTR platform development to be as sensitive as gold-standard PCR tests, the funding will support our development of an over-the-counter disposable product, similar to an at-home pregnancy test, that can be used to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Pending approval, we are on track to launch this product in mid-2021.”

INSPECTR, which stands for Internal Splint-Pairing Expression Cassette Translation Reaction,  uses synthetic biology to enable the creation of instrument-free diagnostic tests that can be conducted at home, at room temperature. INSPECTR can be adapted to work on a simple paper strip test or to provide an electrochemical readout that can be read with a mobile phone. It can also be adapted for use in laboratory or point-of-care settings. By decentralizing testing, INSPECTR has the potential to dramatically change health outcomes for people all over the world, mitigating the spread of disease and helping patients make vital health decisions sooner.

“By creating the very first diagnostic tests that do not require complex instruments and can be deployed anywhere, especially in low-resource settings, Sherlock is poised to make a wide-ranging and powerful impact on health outcomes,” said James J. Collins, co-founder and board member of Sherlock Biosciences and Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering and Science for MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) and Department of Biological Engineering. “We are delighted by the support of the Gates Foundation to develop these tests, which we believe will contribute to earlier disease detection, faster intervention and the elimination of epidemics worldwide.”

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