Dr. Filippo Bosco
CEO & Founder of Bluesense Diagnostics
Interview by Kamran Rafiq (ISNTD)
Last year, USAID selected BluSense Diagnostics as one of its Grand Challenges winners to address the global Zika epidemic. BluSense Diagnostics is an impressive young Danish startup, built around an innovative, simple and scalable blood testing technology and is developing the first one-drop-of-blood quantitative Dengue and Zika antigen, serology, and molecular POCT tests. Currently under validation in different clinical settings, BluSense’s diagnostics solution has the potential to become the next-generation diagnostics platform for emergency response, and for large-scale use in sub-tropical markets – offering the first quantitative rapid tests able to quickly and accurately differentiate infections from cross-reacting viruses, such as Dengue, Zika, Chikungunya, and Yellow Fever. In this interview, the ISNTD catches up with Filippo Bosco, CEO & Founder of BluSense Diagnostics, who speaks about the scalability of BluSense’s technology and plans for partnerships within the field of tropical diseases.
It appears that your technology base is made up of a mix of magnetic nanotechnology, opto-electronic readout, and centrifugal microfluidics. How do these separate technology streams come together to form your ‘BluBox’?
Yes, the BluBox and Viro-Track technology (reader + consumable) have been developed merging the outcome of three different research lines, associated to the PhD projects of the three main founders. Back in 2012, the 3 of us found out that combining the 3 technologies we could achieve something innovative and better than what existing in the market: Blu-Ray based optical detection would provide accurate, user-friendly and low-cost readout platform, the magnetic nanoparticles would provide a scalable and sensitive biodetection transducer, and the centrifugal microfluidics would provide a simple and fully-integrated platform for sample processing.
Does the tech that you are using allow for scale-up and out into different disease states and if so which diseases outside of dengue and Zika are you looking to cover?
Indeed, our technology is compatible with virtually any immunoassay. Simply engineering in a different way the nanoparticles (“teaching” them to capture different biomolecules) we can expand the same technology to different diseases. BluSense is constantly scouting for “what-next” opportunities, and we are currently focusing on identifying future clinical applications in the infectious disease segment. A natural first expansion would be towards other mosquito-borne diseases (yellow fever, JEV, chikungunya, WNV, etc.) or towards other neglected tropical diseases. Furthermore, we are investigating potential interest by the healthcare community on developing serological assays for sexually transmitted diseases, lepto-spirosis, tuberculosis and others.
In this scale up, are you able to integrate/incorporate other diagnostic platforms or technologies?
Yes, indeed we already successfully tried proof of concept for running molecular tests with our platform (with some modifications), thus proving the possibility of integrating DNA/RNA tests within the same BluBox machine. We tested such approach with bacteria in urine and water, proving the potential of our technology to be applied to other applications besides blood tests
Our motto here at the ISNTD is progress through partnership - what type of partnerships do you envisage will drive the future success of BluSense Diagnostics?
Our current focus is to partner with key experts (public or private actors) in the infectious disease sector, as we believe endorsement from key opinion leader is a critical aspect of a successful commercialization of innovative devices. In particular, we are interested in partnering with actors with strong footprint in the emerging markets that we are targeting: Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India and the Philippines.
You will be attending our ISNTD d³ - what type of companies, sector will you be looking to speak with?
As above, I hope to be able to engage with key experts in the field, which can give us advises on a wide range of topics such as how to optimize clinical trials in relevant regions, how to design optimal protocols in order to maximize time-to-market, and how to engage local communities for pilot projects which can enhance our visibility and materialize in the future in more presence on the territory.
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About BluSense Diagnostics
BluSense Diagnostics is a young Danish startup, built around an innovative, simple and scalable blood testing technology. BluSense has been developing the first one-drop-of-blood quantitative Dengue and Zika antigen, serology, and molecular POCT tests, which is under validation in different clinical settings. The platform is based on a reader (BluBox), and single-use blood test cartridges (VIRO-Track), specifically designed for targeting different viruses. The VIRO-Track cartridges have been developed to be the first quantitative rapid tests able to quickly and accurately differentiate infections from cross-reacting viruses, such as Dengue, Zika, Chikungunya, and Yellow Fever. BluSense reader has been designed following the stringent requirements of UNICEF, WHO, BARDA, and PAHO: Affordable, Accurate & quantitative, Easy-to-operate, and Portable & Lightweight. The device is compatible with large sets of blood testing consumables, having the potential to become the next-generation diagnostics platform for emergency response, and for large-scale use in sub-tropical markets. BluSense has attracted investment from Europe, Asia and US, over the past 3 years.