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Sherlock Biosciences Lands $2M DOD Contract to Develop Rapid Diagnostics

NEW YORK – Sherlock Biosciences today announced it has won a contract worth approximately $2 million from the US Department of Defense's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, to develop rapid diagnostics for pathogens and other biothreats.

The grant, which is for just under two years, according to a spokesperson, will help the firm develop its Sherlock platform — which applies CRISPR in diagnostics — for a battlefield setting, as well as refine its computational tools.

"This support will further our mission to harness the power of CRISPR and synthetic biology to develop diagnostic tools that enable effective decision-making in any environment at any time," Sherlock Cofounder, President, and CEO Rahul Dhanda said in a statement. "This funding will enable our team to continue to make important progress advancing our platform, while also addressing an urgent need to rapidly identify pathogenic agents and other biothreats."

Sherlock CTO William Blake added, "the funding provides important validation for the versatility of Sherlock's platform, and our ability to develop simple, impactful diagnostic tools that can be applied in field-based settings."

Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Sherlock is a Broad Institute spinout launched earlier this year that has built platforms using CRISPR and synthetic biology for diagnostics. Pioneering CRISPR researcher Feng Zhang, a cofounder, serves on the firm's scientific advisory board. In addition to its eponymous CRISPR-based platform, the firm is developing internal split-pairing expression cassette translation reaction, or INSPCTR, an "instrument-free" molecular diagnostics platform.

The contract adds to the $49 million the firm has raised, $35 million in initial financing — including a $17.5 million non-dilutive grant from the Open Philanthropy Project — and a $31 million Series A round announced in April.