NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A New Mexico native and New Mexico State University alum has developed a test that allows individuals to see if they are infected with the coronavirus. Bobby Brooke Herrera is the interim CEO and chief science officer at E25Bio, a company he helped co-found in 2018 with career MIT researcher Irene Bosch and MIT professor Lee Gehrke.
In a news release, the E235 Bio DART is described as a less expensive, paper-based test that is able to deliver COVID-19 results in 15 minutes or less. The test is said to be similar to a pregnancy test as it provides results in a visual readout and doesn’t have any moving parts or machinery.
Molecular diagnostic testing methods such as gold-standard polymerase chain reaction require labs to charge $50 to $100 or more per patient. Tests produced by E25Bio cost considerably less and don’t require labs to process them.
“There are many rapid antibody-based tests that are coming to market,” said Herrera in a news release. “These tests do not identify active COVID-19 infections, but rather let patients know they were infected.”
While E25Bio’s DART test is a low cost, a notable challenge is that antigen-based tests have lower sensitivity compared to PCR tests. The company is now pushing to get the Federal Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization by September 1.
“Our manufacturers can produce millions of tests per week,” said Herrera. “This is in stark contrast to PCR, which anyone hospital can only test up to 5,000-10,000 patients per day. Additionally, the E25Bio DART enables contact tracing, as it can be paired with a mobile phone app to report test results and epidemiological data in real-time to the cloud. Diagnosis during the active phase of infection is important because one is able to then isolate before transmitting the virus to others.”
Herrera grew up in San Miguel, New Mexico, and earned his bachelor’s degree in biology at NMSU in 2012. He then earned a master’s degree at Harvard’s Divinity School and pursued his Ph.D. at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.