Detecting infections faster with CRISPR-Cas
Wageningen University & Research (WUR), together with spinoff Scope Biosciences, has received a grant of 150,000 euros from the European Research Council (ERC). The grant is meant to further research and enhance their 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.
Jurre Steens is one of the founders of the Scope Biosciences and explains what ScopeDx is meant for: "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: "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."
Prof. John van der Oost is one of the founders of the CRISPR Cas technology and he is proud: "It is very special to see a new generation of scientists working with CRISPR. CRISPR technology still is a relative virgin territory. So it is exiting 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."
Bringing knowledge to value is - in addition to education and research - one of Wageningen University & Research's core values. Establishing a spinoff company is one way to do that, and Scope Biosciences is one example. WUR is proud of its spinoff companies and the would-be entrepreneurs can therefore count on specific guidance in this process and clear agreements.