Pioneering an at-home rapid fever panel for mosquito-borne diseases.
For Irene Bosch, an expert in the ecology of disease and tropical public health, the consequences of mosquito-borne illness were witnessed first hand in her doctoral field work in the Amazon rainforest and its neighboring towns and cities. Consequences and suffering that, to her, were entirely avoidable if only she could cut through the inefficient infrastructure and bureaucracies that did little to impede epidemics of dengue, chikungunya, and Zika.
Bosch’s company, E25Bio, has developed a rapid, at-home fever panel that detects deadly mosquito-borne illnesses in minutes, not days. It is a simple, over-the-counter blood test that will help diagnose these diseases in time to receive potentially life-saving treatment. This test empowers the patient, giving them control of their healthcare and helping avoid arduous diagnosis processes.
Take the typical detection process for dengue, chikungunya, and Zika, for example. After an initial hospital or clinic visit, the patient consults with a doctor, then has his or her blood drawn. A lab workup is performed and test results are assessed. It’s an exercise that takes days at the minimum, and in many instances, is measured in weeks. Such delays elevate the risk of patient fatality by 20%. The story is similar for mosquito-borne illnesses across the globe.
For Bosch, a Venezuelan native, the journey from the cities and forests of South America to The Engine brought her through labs at Harvard, UMass Medical School, The Broad Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and MIT. It was at her latest appointment, in MIT’s Gehrke lab, that she produced the antibodies and designed the technology that would eventually serve as the foundation for E25Bio.
The test, which works with whole blood from a simple finger prick, is the first of its kind to screen for active virus, making it more effective than a traditional blood draw. It is also sold over-the-counter and produces results within a few minutes. This convenience, accuracy, and inherent affordability is the result of what E25Bio’s CEO Jeff Takle calls an “obsessed, scrappy team, wanting to do something that is, above all, novel and creative.”
Takle, who joined the E25Bio team in early 2019, previously founded and helmed one of the world’s largest aggregators and sellers of IoT-enabled medical device information and insights. The company inspired the WHO to rewrite its policy on medical devices, requiring the establishment of various strategic performance targets — Takle is no stranger to championing game-changing healthcare platforms.
E25Bio is putting a specialized central medical testing facility within a single over-the-counter test. Such consolidation subverts the disparity of access to life-changing medical knowledge. And the company’s unique ability to quickly produce effective antibody pairs means that its test has the potential to help patients across the globe. Disease, after all, knows no borders.