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Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
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E25Bio has developed and preparing to bring to market a Paper-
Bobby Brooke Herrera, PhD
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Published – April 6, 2020
CEOCFO: Dr. Herrera, what is the vision behind E25Bio today?
Dr. Herrera: The vision of E25Bio is to make outbreak prediction a reality, such that we are able to identify an outbreak before it ever occurs. The way that we envision accomplishing this is by rapid detection of infectious diseases using affordable, rapid diagnostics that are digitally integrated to the cloud.
CEOCFO: When did the concept start?
Dr. Herrera: The vision started with three of our co-
CEOCFO: What is the typical way of diagnosing viruses? How does your approach differ? What is the science that enables the rapid test?
Dr. Herrera: The current standard of diagnosis and the gold standard is a methodology called PCR or Polymerase Chain Reaction. Polymerase Chain Reaction is a very specific way of diagnosing infectious diseases and that is detection by nucleic acids. However, while it is quite specific and sensitive, it also has a lot of setbacks that we are witnessing today with regard to the coronavirus pandemic. One is that it is not affordable. It costs anywhere from one hundred to three hundred dollars per patient. And it is not scalable. You can typically diagnose one hundred to five hundred at a single facility per day. Also, it requires logistical support. It requires an extraction of sample out of the human body, extraction of RNA in pristine condition and then you need a trained technician or a trained experimentalist to do the experiment on a machine that requires power. Therefore, this is not applicable and it is not tenable in low resource regions such as those where we work in Africa and Latin America. Even in developed countries, like the United States, we find ourselves in a tricky situation.
Because we realized that early on, part of our goal was then to develop something that was much simpler than the current gold standard. We sought to miniaturize that type of technology into a paper-
Part of the technology at E25Bio is the development of these monoclonal antibodies, but then moreover, identifying, through a high throughput screening methodology, the best antibodies with the highest sensitivities and specificities for the virus or the viral proteins. Once we have identified these antibodies, then we apply them to development of these lateral flow tests that resemble pregnancy tests, that fit in the palm of your hand, that gives a visual readout in fifteen minutes or less, and that makes diagnosis much faster, simpler, and cheaper.
CEOCFO: Have similar approaches been tried?
Dr. Herrera: Similar approaches have been tried. There are many, many paper-
At E25Bio, our bread and butter, what our proprietary technology really aims to do, is to provide rapid detection of acute infections. We are among the few companies around the world that have been able to prove ourselves to create products to diagnose active dengue infection, active Zika infection, active Chikungunya infection and now, in record timing, we produced a test to detect active coronavirus infection.
CEOCFO: Where is that test today? What is happening right now?
Dr. Herrera: I want to step back, just to illustrate the power of E25Bio. There was a mysterious respiratory illness that was brought to the world’s attention in December, late 2019. By January 30th, the World Health Organization deemed the current epidemic a public health emergency of international concern. That is when E25Bio decided to turn on its engines and to find the best monoclonal antibodies that recognize this virus and in a matter of two weeks, we had a paper-
In order to validate that test you have to do a couple of things; one is the make sure that it works in your lab, in the E25Bio lab. However, we then sent the test off and we first asked the question, “Does this test pick up virus, meaning SARS-
Now that we have established ourselves, both in the laboratory as well as clinically, we are now transferring our technology to our manufacturers. This is part of the beauty of our type of technology; these tests are scalable. We hope to scale to production of 150,000+ per day by end of April and early May, such that we can distribute as many tests across the United States as well as across the world, to help the current testing situation.
CEOCFO: How will the recent funding help you do that? What are the barriers, even in the situation that we all find ourselves in today, to having people pick up on it as there may be many people claiming they have things that will work but do not?
Dr. Herrera: The funding be being used on scale up. I had mentioned that we are now at a phase where we are transferring our technology to our manufacturer. That is where they are able to produce hundreds of thousands of tests per day. In order to do that it requires a significant amount of capital. Therefore, we are using our resources to bring in all of the necessary components that go into high scale production of these lateral flow tests. In addition to that, we continue to perform research in our laboratories, such that we can improve our results over time.
CEOCFO: So many people are coming up with ways to test. How do you standout so that E25Bio receives the attention you deserve?
Dr. Herrera: There are a couple of ways. One; I do not want to discourage any types of technology. PCR technology is great technology, antigen-
Third; which is a very important point, is that if a person is infected with Coronavirus, they report to the hospital and the hospital does a PCR test. That PCR performed and results are delivered within a couple of days. Regardless, only one test is ever done on a single patient. However, with an antigen-
CEOCFO: Really overwhelming! What is the takeaway for our readers and for the medical community, for the world, about the E25Bio solution?
Dr. Herrera: What we have now realized is that infectious diseases not only cause human harm, but they cause social harm, they cause economic harm, extreme economic harm in the case of Coronavirus, and they do not respect borders. That means that they can infect any person in any country, despite what you look like and where you live and how much money you have. I think what is important is that we one, invest resources into the life sciences, both in the academic sciences as well as in biotech sciences, and two, we prepare for outbreaks. That means, governments, in the future, should pay attention to infectious diseases, because they have drastic implications for the way that we live
Finally, more resources should go towards helping fund biotech companies, like E25Bio, Inc., that have the capacity to bring to market diagnostics and vaccines when it actually matters.
E25Bio, Inc., COVID 19 Test Kit, Rapid Covid 19 Antibody Test, Bobby Brooke Herrera, PhD, E25Bio has developed and preparing to bring to market a Paper-
“The vision of E25Bio is to make outbreak prediction a reality, such that we are able to identify an outbreak before it ever occurs.”-