The Helmholtz Association is supporting the Helmholtz Institute Würzburg (HIRI) with two grants totaling more than one million euros towards commercialization of the LEOPARD technology. The innovative diagnostic platform, which can detect multiple RNA and DNA biomarkers in a simple point-of-care test, is expected to contribute to better medical care decisions in the future. The two grants are part of the Helmholtz Validation Fund and the Helmholtz Spin-Off Program.
The Helmholtz Institute Würzburg (HIRI) and the Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) achieved a breakthrough in medical diagnostics with their research on the natural gene scissors CRISPR, which is a part of a bacterial immune system. The joint research on CRISPR ribonucleic acids (RNAs) led to the development of a new diagnostic platform called LEOPARD and was previously reported in the prestigious scientific journal Science.
Unlike existing technologies such as standard PCR, LEOPARD has the potential to detect multiple disease-related biomarkers in a single test at the point-of-care. This will give doctors a more immediate understanding of a patient’s health status and lead to better and more timely treatment plans. The potential simplicity of tests based on the LEOPARD technology also holds great potential for use in resource poor settings, such as for tuberculosis or neglected tropical diseases in regions without access to clinical laboratory infrastructure.
The HIRI spin-off team behind Leopard Biosciences, led by HIRI department head Chase Beisel, will use the funding to validate and further advance the commercialization of the technology. Leopard Biosciences will be incorporated in the coming months, with the goal of becoming the leader in point-of-care molecular diagnostics.
About Helmholtz Enterprise
Helmholtz Enterprise is the internal program for spin-offs from the Helmholtz Association. The overall purpose of the program is to support scientists to work entrepreneurial and start a well-thought-out business. It consists of two independent modules. Applications for each module are independent of each other. The Spin-off Program finances the establishment of start-up teams working at the Center and the implementation of start-up projects. The Spin-off Program also finances externally found team members if required and the expansion of start-up competencies of the internal team, e.g. by participating in entrepreneurship training. The Field Study Fellowship finances a budget for personnel and material costs for the Helmholtz Centers or their institutes in order to identify customer needs through interviews and market research.
About the Helmholtz Validation Projects
The central objective of the validation projects in the transfer campaign is to close the gap between idea and application. The financial support shall enable scientists from Helmholtz centers to validate research results to the extent that an increase in value and commercialization is achieved. Validation can take the form, for example, of proof of technical applicability, a production process or preclinical testing (proof-of-concept projects), thereby increasing the value of the invention and the commercialization prospects of the product or service.