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CRISPR Point-of-Care Diagnostics

Project description

Advancing the diagnostic potential of CRISPR-Cas

The CRISPR-Cas technology allows for genome editing and diagnostics. The bacterial CRISPR-Cas defence mechanism generally uses a short RNA molecule that guides a Cas effector protein (or protein complex) to a matching target sequence. Several CRISPR-Cas types have been characterised in great detail. With respect to diagnostic applications, the type III CRISPR-Cas system has great potential. Although a recently established multistep diagnostic approach sparked a lot of interest, there is room for improvement. Funded by the European Research Council, the SCOPE project introduces a thermostable RNA polymerase to streamline the entire process into a single step. The project aims to provide proof of concept of the technical feasibility of this proposition to allow the diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


Monitoring of human health and the prevention/treatment of (infectious) diseases strongly depend on accurate and efficient detection, identification and tracking of pathogens or biomarkers. Key features of such a diagnostic tool that enable this are speed, accuracy and availability at the point-of-care. Current molecular diagnostic solutions do not meet these requirements due to the fact that they often need to be performed in a centralized fashion. However, the incredible advances in CRISPR-Cas technology in recent years provide an opportunity to change this. By taking advantage of the innate specificity of CRISPR-Cas we have previously developed a highly sensitive and accurate proof-of-concept diagnostic tool with promising results. The potential for implementation is unfortunately impaired by the fact that the workflow comprises of multiple steps that increases hands-on time, room for human error and the undesirable implications this has. To mitigate this, we propose a solution that entails developing a novel approach based on a thermostable RNA polymerase that allows for the condensation of the current workflow into a shorter 1-step protocol. Once such a protocol has been developed, an assay will be developed for one of the causative pathogens of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Technical feasibility of the assay will be demonstrated, in collaboration with an academic hospital, by characterizing the developed assay on relevant clinical samples. This will provide insight into the real-life performance when compared to the current gold standard (PCR) as well as ease-of-use in a relevant context. Furthermore, the feasibility of the value proposition and potential for commercialization will be thoroughly assessed. Not only will this ERC-PoC project shed light on the potential for our improved CRISPR-Cas based diagnostic tool in the context of COPD, a sense of broad applicability in other human Point-of-Care diagnostics applications will be gained.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 150 000,00
6708 PB Wageningen

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Oost-Nederland Gelderland Veluwe
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
No data

Beneficiaries (1)