At the end of 2019 few people knew much about viral infectious disease testing, and even less cared. Today, it is the most important topic around the world, and slow, bureaucratic, expensive testing methods can no longer be tolerated. Discovery DX will disrupt the market in Point-of-Care Testing (POCT) for infectious diseases with low-cost, easy-to-use rapid diagnostic kits.
PHIL SMITH, Ph.D.
A decisive leader with a 40-year track record as a team builder, mentor and value creator with extensive experience with hi-tech start-up companies. He is a successful entrepreneur and prudent risk taker with extensive international experience in sales, service, and operations, most notably as Chairman of the Board at Taser International, where investors received a 50X payout in three years. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He received an MBA at Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in Finance from St. Louis University.
Mr. Materna has enjoyed a 25-year career in high technology and is the veteran of seven previous start-ups, two of which have gone on to be $100 million successes. He has held marketing, sales, senior management, and CEO positions with companies in electronics, computers, AI, test equipment, biotech, consumer products and digital outdoor signage. He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.
Typically, the way to be accurately diagnosed for an influenza infection is to visit a doctor’s office and have a specimen taken and sent out to the lab for a sample-to-answer test (or cultured) which significantly delays the diagnosis. Often the test result comes back well after the initial doctor’s visit. This system is inconvenient, expensive, contributes to the spread of the virus and gives up some degree of personal privacy.
The situation for currently available COVID-19 tests is that it usually takes several hours to run the actual tests. They are typically done in batches overnight, with results being returned anywhere from 1 to 10 days later. Several dozen new POC rapid diagnostic tests for the coronavirus for use at a doctor’s office have recently received FDA Emergency Use Authorization. Their performance and accuracy are not presently well-documented. A rapid, low-cost, easy to use, and accurate fully at-home test kit for COVID-19 does not currently exist.
Based on groundbreaking university research, Discovery DX is developing early detection kits, one for influenza and another for coronavirus. In both cases, a flu or coronavirus test will be run by obtaining a microbe sample (by swabbing the inside of the nose or the back of the throat) and placing the sample in a small receptacle of testing liquid.
Scientists at the University College Dublin (UCD) in Ireland have developed and patented a novel molecular switch, called a hinged peptide, which offers a potential breakthrough for more accurate chemical assays (tests) than has previously been possible. Due to the hinged peptide’s unique design, recent results show this molecular switch outperforming previous technology in sensitivity, stability and robustness.
This diagnostic product will be a significant breakthrough in the early detection of these dangerous infections, rapidly informing the patient’s treatment choices. For example, after a suspected exposure, and even before the first sign of symptoms of a cold, flu or coronavirus, the consumer could swab and test themselves or a loved one and within minutes know if the person being tested (child, spouse, parent, grandparent) has a flu virus, the COVID-19 virus, or is free of either and just has a common cold or nothing at all.
If the virus is present the testing liquid will change to a unique color specific to the type of virus being tested.
Obtain a microbe sample (by swabbing the inside of the nose or the back of the throat) and place the sample in the small vial of testing liquid.
Easily shake the vial from side to side and up and down.
Wait 3–4 minutes. If the virus is present, the testing solution will change to a unique color specific to the type of virus being tested.
The company is currently conducting a capital raise to provide funding for the further development of the UCD molecular switch, leading to a targeted prototype in Q3 2020, followed by productization, FDA clearance, and market introduction in 2021.
Discovery DX will be managed for either an acquisition by a larger pharma company or an IPO, either of which could occur any time after FDA clearance and achieving market traction in the home diagnostic market.
For additional information on investment rounds, contact: