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Returning for its third year, AACC’s Disruptive Technology Award (DTA) will once again recognize innovative testing solutions that improve patient care through diagnostic performance or access to high-quality testing. A virtual, prerecorded format marks a key difference from prior years, although the change in dates of the 2020 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo from July to December did produce a silver lining. “We were able to extend the application deadline and add to an already stellar pool of applicants,” members of the DTA Organizing Committee told CLN Stat in a statement.

The competition provides mentorship and networks within the growing in vitro diagnostics (IVD) industry and research community. It also fosters innovation and industry relationships within the AACC community. The winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize.

In 2020, 48 innovators applied for the DTA. To select the semifinalists, the DTA Organizing Committee and five additional reviewers conducted a preliminary review of a pool of top applicants, selecting six semifinalists. These candidates were invited to deliver a presentation about their technology to the committee via video conference.

The committee selected the three finalists from this group based on the presentation.

The three finalists are:

  • ALCEDIAG: The company’s Edit-B blood test helps differentiate depression from bipolar disorder with an accuracy of 87%. The test provides biological, objective, and rapidly available data. The aim of Edit-B is to diagnose bipolar disorder and to differentiate bipolar disorder patients from depressed patients. Yielding 80% accuracy, EDIT-B has been tested in large-scale clinical studies involving more than 600 patients.
  • Baebies: Nearly 10% of all newborns are admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit, where they are evaluated using tests intended for adults that require large sample volumes. Baebies addresses unmet needs in neonatal diagnostics with panels of tests using low sample volume. Its FINDER platform uses one drop of whole blood to test for glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD).
  • Sherlock Biosciences: The company creates advanced platforms in molecular testing “to offer unparalleled breadth and versatility for diagnostic solutions.” Its strength is developing faster, affordable tests that can be applied in any setting without the need for complex instruments. The company is named after one of its platform technologies, Specific High sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter unLOCKing, or SHERLOCK. SHERLOCK is a method for identifying specific sequences of genetic material in a sample using the gene editing tool CRISPR.

The DTA Organizing Committee used six criteria to review applications for the 2020 award. Applications were scored on a scale of 1 to 100.

Criteria included:

  • Technology Vision (maximum 50 points) A clear description of the technology, what unmet needs it solves, its uniqueness, whether it provides a better solution than current standard of care or competitive solutions, the disruptiveness of the technology—whether it will affect healthcare costs or change clinical practice, and its protections relating to intellectual property, barriers to entry, and whether the developer can prevent re-creation of the technology.
  • Business Vision (maximum 15 points) This involved the clinical expertise, partnerships, and organization of the business team, and regulatory approvals and pathways.
  • Market Vision (maximum 20 points) Applicants addressed questions surrounding market needs, target markets, and competition.

In three other categories each worth 5 points, applicants addressed the clarity of presentation and language of their technology, whether it was a good fit for the DTA award, and other information such as awards or industry recognition.

The DTA award takes place December 14, 4:30–5:30 p.m. U.S. Central Time at the 2020 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo. Finalists will present their technologies, and the winner will be chosen at the end of the session.