LymeX Diagnostics Prize Launches Phase 2 with a Virtual Accelerator
Ten Phase 1 winning teams joined the 2023 LymeX Diagnostics Prize Virtual Accelerator for mentorship and resources to nurture the development of new Lyme disease diagnostics towards market
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation (the Foundation) have launched Phase 2 of the LymeX Diagnostics Prize, inviting the ten Phase 1 winners to participate in a virtual accelerator. Through September 2023, the virtual accelerator cohort will refine their concepts for detecting active Lyme disease infections in people. The goal of the multiphase LymeX Diagnostic Prize (LymeX) competition is to nurture the development of diagnostics toward Food and Drug Administration review.
“Phase 1 of the LymeX Diagnostics Prize recognized ten winners for their substantial potential to transform the future of Lyme disease diagnostics,” said Rear Admiral Michael Iademarco, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Science and Medicine in the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health. “The need for equitable access to accurate diagnostics is only growing—and both Lyme disease and health equity are priorities.”
The LymeX Diagnostics Prize Virtual Accelerator provides a pathway to nurture the development of the next generation of Lyme disease diagnostics toward FDA submission and market. The current two-tier serological testing system to detect Lyme disease relies on the presence of antibodies, which often take four to six weeks after infection to become detectable in humans. This testing with a significant lag time, called a seronegative window of infection, delays diagnosis. Delayed diagnoses prevent timely crucial treatment interventions.
By using a prize competition, rather than relying on traditional grantmaking, the LymeX Diagnostics Prize offers cash prizes alongside a range of non-monetary resources. The competition is designed to stimulate the market for Lyme disease diagnostics by bringing together a diverse group of experts to address an unmet societal need. The LymeX Diagnostics Prize Phase 1 inspired 52 teams to submit innovative concepts, which judges evaluated, and HHS awarded $1 million to 10 winning teams ($100,000 to each team) in a highly competitive field. Learn more about the Phase 1 winners and their diagnostic concepts on the competition website.
“We are proud to support LymeX with HHS and believe in the power of open innovation in the fight against this debilitating disease,” said Alexandra Cohen, President of the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. “As the LymeX Diagnostics Prize has demonstrated, collaboration will continue to accelerate the necessary discovery and development of Lyme disease diagnostics.”
The LymeX Diagnostics Prize Virtual Accelerator offers the cohort access to virtual learning, mentorship, biorepository subject matter expertise, and networking opportunities designed to help the teams progress toward FDA review. A selection of accelerator resources will be made available to the public on the competition website to support broader innovation in Lyme disease diagnostics and treatment.
Phase 2 coincides with the next phase of federal nurturing of tick-borne-disease solutions. Therefore, LymeX will continue ongoing, robust HHS engagement with the patient-led community and diverse partners throughout 2023. An upcoming series of public webinars and LymeX events will offer opportunities for continued public engagement, open to everyone, for information exchange and continuous two-way learning.
The competition judging panel—composed of experts across sectors such as vector-borne disease biology, clinical and technology translation, patient experience and advocacy, and diagnostic science and technology—will evaluate eligible submissions according to official Phase 2 evaluation criteria. Based on the judges’ evaluations, the panel will recommend up to five Phase 2 winners of the LymeX Diagnostics Prize.
Thanks to a $10 million pledge to the LymeX Diagnostics Prize from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, $9 million in LymeX prizes are projected to be available in proposed future phases. Phase 2 is part of this multi-year, multi-phased LymeX Diagnostics Prize series that HHS plans to announce further details for in early 2023.
The LymeX Diagnostics Prize is sponsored by the LymeX Innovation Accelerator, a partnership between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. LymeX is the world’s largest public-private partnership for Lyme disease, fostering collaborative innovation among patients and advocates, academia, nonprofits, industry, and government. As a component of a larger moonshot, LymeX is identifying, developing, and implementing advancements in Lyme disease care. In addition to accelerating next-generation diagnostics, LymeX is spearheading development of human-centered solutions and fostering breakthroughs in education and awareness. For more information, visit lyme-x.org.
About the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
HHS enhances and protects the health and well-being of all Americans. HHS fulfills that mission by providing for effective health and human services and by fostering sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health, and social services. For more information, visit hhs.gov.
About the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation
The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation is committed to inspiring philanthropy and community service by creating awareness, offering guidance, and leading by example to show the world what giving can do. The Foundation’s grants support nonprofit organizations based in the United States that either help people in need or solve complex problems. The Foundation is the largest private funder of Lyme and tick-borne disease research in the United States with over $85 million disbursed for groundbreaking studies in prevention, diagnostics, and treatment as well as building essential research infrastructure to catalyze innovation. The Foundation also spearheads grassroots campaigns to encourage others to give. For more information, visit steveandalex.org.