In a recent analysis of what a post-COVID-19 world might look like, consulting firm Frost & Sullivan predicts a large transformation in the healthcare industry gaining speed this year. 

Among its many predictions, the firm’s report emphasizes that telehealth has rapidly increased and is expected to continue to do so as a result of social distancing and the development of at-home testing kits, among other trends. Following on this theme, the report predicts that 33% of global clinical trials will be disrupted by the end of 2020, paving the way for virtual trials, as well as virtual patient monitoring.

The company also predicts strong growth in informatics and artificial intelligence (AI). In one example the report notes, GE Healthcare has received Food and Drug Administration clearance for the Critical Care Suite AI tool that provides radiologists with a mobile X-ray device to reduce turnaround time for results with quick analysis. Additionally, with the high demand for testing, Frost & Sullivan expects a permanent shift to alternative in vitro diagnostics testing sites such as pharmacies.

“Moving forward, healthcare IT companies such as Microsoft, Optum, Intel, and [Amazon Web Services] are betting big on enterprise-grade AI platforms that predict pandemics, forecast patient volume across providers, authenticate reimbursement, and drive general well-being of the insured population through medication management and self-care enablement,” said Unmesh Lal, transformational health program manager at Frost & Sullivan.

Roche, SpeeDx Ink Agreement for Antibiotic Resistance Tests

Anew agreement between Roche and SpeeDx aims to help manage antibiotic-resistant sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Due to the rapid rise of antibiotic-resistant infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed two STIs, gonorrhea and Mycoplasma genitalium, as major health threats with limited treatment options. Through the partnership, Roche will gain access to SpeeDx’s quantitative polymerase chain reaction tests, ResistancePlus MG and ResistancePlus GC, and in return will commercialize the products across the globe.

“This agreement is a significant inflection point for our company and will enable more patients and clinicians around the world to access key diagnostic tools for the management of antibiotic resistance,” said Colin Denver, SpeeDx CEO.

Currently, SpeeDx’s ResistancePlus GC molecular test has received the CE mark from Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration. The test has the ability to detect gonorrhea while simultaneously tracing sequences of the bacterium that causes resistance to ciprofloxacin, a common antibiotic treatment for this STI. As the demand for resistance therapy increases, both companies hope to provide clinicians worldwide with the technology needed to individually treat each patient based on the resistance status of their STIs.

Renalytix AI and UM Further CKD Research

Renalytix AI has entered into a partnership with the University of Michigan (UM) to further expand its kidney disease identification platform, KidneyIntelX. Through the university, Renalytix AI will have the opportunity to work with over 800 patients at the UM George M. O’Brien Kidney Translational Core Center who have been diagnosed with or are at risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD). The partnership will allow Renalytix AI to gain full access to UM’s clinical phenotyping resource and biobank core, which contains patient data from a range of CKD subtypes including those related to diabetes, hypertension, and glomerular disease. Renalytix AI will also receive the option to license intellectual property associated with urinary epithelial growth factor, a biomarker with evidence of predicting CKD.

Renalytix AI also announced a similar agreement with a non-disclosed global pharmaceutical company to analyze the performance of the KidneyIntelX within a 6-year follow-up period. Under the agreement, the companies will evaluate how the KidneyIntelX works to predict patient responses to therapeutic agents indicated to slow or prevent kidney function decline.

NGS Diagnostics Expand in Russia

In a deal to advance next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based diagnostics in Russia, Thermo Fisher Scientific will enter into a partnership with diagnostic manufacturer First Genetics. The partnership aims to promote First Genetics’ F-Genetics system, an NGS technology system based on Thermo Fisher’s Ion GeneStudio S5 system. This partnership also plans to expand in vitro diagnostic assays in Russian labs for reproductive health testing and cancer diagnostics.

After receiving certification from the Russian medical device regulatory agency, First Genetics’ Reproline kit is approved to detect chromosomal abnormalities in embryos prior to in vitro fertilization implantation using the F-Genetics system. This is the first certification by the Russian government approving preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidies.

“High-throughput technologies for genetic analysis are the future of molecular diagnostics,” said Nikolai Kuznetsov, CEO of First Genetics. “Today we have expanded applications of NGS into reproductive medicine in Russia, and in the future, we intend to offer clinically certified solutions for other clinical applications, such as oncology testing. This is our contribution to the development of clinical diagnostics in Russia.”

Sherlock Biosciences, binx health Partner for First Point-of-Care CRISPR COVID-19 Test

Sherlock Biosciences and binx health announced a partnership to develop the first point-of-care diagnostic test using CRISPR technology. By combining Sherlock’s CRISPR technology with binx’s diagnostic platform, io, the companies expect to provide speedy results before a patient leaves a testing site.

Earlier this year, Sherlock became the first company to receive emergency use authorization for a CRISPR-based COVID-19 test kit, and binx’s io platform received Food and Drug Administration clearance for the ability to detect infectious diseases from bodily fluids. “This collaboration with binx health to advance our Sherlock diagnostic platform and offer an accurate, point-of-care test is the next critical step in combating the global Covid-19 crisis,” said Rahul Dhanda, Sherlock CEO.

According to the companies, Sherlock’s CRISPR SARS-CoV-2 kit programs a CRISPR molecule to detect the presence of a specific SARS-CoV-2 genetic signature in patient samples. Binx’s io cartridge-based platform uses an automated process to determine a “detected” or “not detected” result.

Companies Team for COVID-19 Low-Cost Spectral Testing

Newsight Imaging and Sheba Medical Center in Israel are teaming to launch a new series of COVID-19 tests that could detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus in less than 1 second. By analyzing the light source and wavelength of a blood or saliva fluid sample, Newsight’s spectral device quickly determines whether or not a patient is affected by the virus. According to Newsight, the device is the first spectral testing method that entails a sensor chip and uses artificial intelligence to identify diseases in patients at an affordable price.

Newsight also says the device simultaneously checks 1,024 spectral channels, currently in the visible light spectrum of 400–700 nm. With evidence of the instrument having 100% accuracy in detecting the coronavirus, the two companies plan to launch a joint venture to commercialize the testing device across the globe.

“Newsight is yet another outstanding example of how Sheba Medical Center and the Israeli start-up ecosystem are working in tandem to reinvent existing technology to battle the scourge of COVID-19,” said Eyal Zimlichman, MD, chief medical and innovation officer at Sheba Medical Center.