Research & Development
Sherlock Biosciences Launches The 221b Foundation to Address the COVID-19 Pandemic and Equity in STEM
15 September 2020 - - US-based engineering biology company Sherlock Biosciences has formed The 221b Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to addressing the global COVID-19 pandemic by enabling access to intellectual property associated with the company's SHERLOCK CRISPR-based technology, the company said.

Proceeds from any company or third-party sales of SHERLOCK CRISPR COVID-19 products will support racial and gender diversity in science, technology, engineering, and math--disciplines collectively known as STEM.

The 221b Foundation's initial leadership includes board members Rahul Dhanda, co-founder, president and CEO of Sherlock Biosciences, and Mark Jefferson, assistant dean for community engagement and equity at Harvard Law School.

The Foundation's first partner in this effort is Scratch, the programming language and online community designed for young people ages 8-16.

Used in more than 150 countries and available in more than 40 languages, Scratch is committed to helping young people think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively.

Scratch, which was originally developed at MIT, will dedicate this funding to programs that benefit the Black, Latinx and Native American communities, along with young women and girls.

SHERLOCK is a method for single molecule detection of nucleic acid targets and stands for Specific High Sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter unLOCKing.

SHERLOCK utilises CRISPR as a method for "smart amplicon detection" and can be adapted for use with existing diagnostic instruments, improving time to result due to the technology's large multiplex capacity.

When a specific sequence of DNA or RNA is present, the CRISPR enzyme is activated and, much like a pair of scissors, starts cutting nearby genetic material, releasing a fluorescent signal that indicates a positive result.

The 221b Foundation was founded with the dual mission to assist in the eradication of COVID-19, while supporting racial and gender diversity in STEM.

By providing support and intellectual property that enables both non-profit and for-profit entities to develop CRISPR-based diagnostic testing, The 221b Foundation seeks to aid in the fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic while furthering access and diversity in STEM industries.

Led by industry experts in the fields of diagnostic testing, STEM and diversity, The 221b Foundation envisions a world where advances in CRISPR technology fuel the innovations that will put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sherlock Biosciences is developing applications of SHERLOCK, a CRISPR-based method to detect and quantify specific genetic sequences, and INSPECTR, a Synthetic Biology-based molecular diagnostics platform that is instrument-free.

SHERLOCK and INSPECTR can be used in virtually any setting without complex instrumentation, opening up a range of potential applications in areas including precision oncology, infection identification, food safety, at-home tests, and disease detection in the field.

In May 2020, the company received Emergency Use Authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration for its Sherlock CRISPR SARS-CoV-2 kit, the first FDA-authorized use of CRISPR technology.