SUNY Poly announced it has received a $500,000 grant from Empire State Development’s New York State Biodefense Commercialization Fund to support bringing a more affordable and accurate 30-minute COVID-19 antibody test to market in partnership with Ciencia, Inc. and the New York State Department of Health, Wadsworth Center.
This research, led by SUNY Poly Interim Vice President for Research and Empire Innovation Professor of Nanobioscience Dr. Nate Cady, leveraging Ciencia, Inc.’s high sensitivity fluorescent plasmonic platform, and with the Wadsworth Center, could enable detailed immune profiling, allowing for the detection of COVID-19 antibodies that define vaccination status, prior exposure, and immunity against key variants.
“This public-private partnership is a prime example of the potential impact SUNY Poly faculty can have on real-world challenges,” said SUNY Poly Acting President Dr. Tod A. Laursen. “I am proud to congratulate Dr. Cady, as well as Ciencia, Inc. and the Wadsworth Center on receiving this grant to accelerate understanding of individual COVID-19 immunity status through this more efficient testing platform.”
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “The New York State Biodefense Commercialization Fund supports up and coming research that will find solutions for serious infectious disease threats. We are proud to support SUNY Poly, Ciencia, Inc. and the Wadsworth Center as they work together to understand and fight the COVID-19 virus.”
Dr. Cady said, “We are grateful for this grant from Empire State Development, in addition to our partnerships with Ciencia, Inc. and the New York State Department of Health, Wadsworth Center, which will serve to help bring this important technology forward to help address the COVID-19 pandemic. I am also thankful to Tanya Waite and Steven Woods from the RF For SUNY for their tech transfer expertise, as well as SUNY and the New York State Center for Advanced Technology in Nanomaterials and Nanoelectronics (CATN2) for their initial support. It has now culminated in a low-cost technique for antibody profiling to optimize patient immunity and prevent COVID-19 infections—especially “breakthrough” cases in previously-vaccinated patients.”
“Ciencia develops innovative optical solutions to diagnostic and research problems. Since the onset of the pandemic, our work alongside Dr. Cady has defined a new opportunity for our Centinela platform: careful quantification of COVID-19 variant immunity. With this award from the NYS Biodefense Fund we are excited to accelerate the development and commercialization for this ongoing infectious disease threat. Importantly, our platform is not limited to COVID testing, and this development will form the basis for the testing of a variety of serious infectious disease threats. Through a partnership with SUNY Poly, we have demonstrated excellent early results for Lyme disease testing, and we seek to further expand our offerings over the coming months,” said Arturo Pilar, president of Ciencia, Inc.
“I am grateful to be part of this multi-center collaboration with SUNY Poly and Ciencia, and thankful to Empire State Development for supporting our effort to advance the fight against COVID-19. As demonstrated by this pandemic, such partnerships are instrumental in tackling difficult public health challenges, and it is important that there are resources and funding in place to facilitate these initiatives. We are developing a similar serological approach to improve the diagnosis of tick-borne diseases, thus this investment by New York State has implications for a broader set of conditions that impact human health,” said Wadsworth Center’s Dr. Klemen Strle.
While COVID-19 cases appear to be declining globally, any decrease in immunity or the possibility of variants that might escape a person’s antibodies could threaten progress. This platform technology aims to provide a data-driven pathway for virus mitigation through widely-available, accurate, and quantitative profiles of patient immunity. For example, by defining a personal inoculation schedule, identifying immunodeficient patients, and even characterizing the antibody response for those who are previously infected but refuse further vaccination, the commercialization of this technology can facilitate the decline of COVID-19 cases, as well as the need for acute testing.
This effort builds upon previously announced research by the same partners, which was supported by a SUNY COVID-19 seed funding program. In addition, the fourth round of the Matching Investment Program (MIP) by the CATN2 also funded related research and commercialization work by Professor Cady’s research group, in partnership with Ciencia, Inc. and sxRNA Technologies, Inc. Moving forward, this project anticipates providing an internship opportunity along with hands-on research for a SUNY Poly undergraduate student.
Notably, the test can also be applied to other diseases, such as Lyme disease and other tickborne illnesses, and the research group will work to demonstrate applicability to future alternative disease threats.
For information visit www.sunypoly.edu.