As we mark Lyme Disease Awareness Month this May, HHS is proud to celebrate the 10 teams participating in Phase 2 of the LymeX Diagnostics Prize. The ultimate goal of HHS and the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation’s LymeX Innovation Accelerator (LymeX) competition is to nurture the development of diagnostics toward Food and Drug Administration review.
The current two-tier antibody testing system—originally developed in 1994 for disease surveillance, not as a stand-alone diagnostic test—relies on the presence of antibodies and can only be used accurately four to six weeks after the patient becomes infected.
Accelerating innovation through cash prizes and expert resources
Through September 2023, ten teams are participating in the Phase 2 virtual accelerator, which offers access to virtual learning, mentorship, biorepository subject matter expertise, and networking opportunities. With prior work in areas ranging from sepsis to genetic sequencing and glycomics, the accelerator cohort is applying a broad range of expertise to their proposed next-generation diagnostics.
By using a prize competition model, 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 helping entrants overcome diagnostic development barriers with prize funds and technical assistance—while also fostering cross-disciplinary collaboration.
Improving testing accessibility is important to improving patient outcomes, and teams are already beginning to consider the issue with the help of clinical studies and device design resources. Over the summer, the cohort will participate in roundtable discussions with patients and clinicians as they refine their concepts.
The LymeX Diagnostics Prize is setting a new bar for innovation in disease diagnostics. If tests are successfully validated, the cohort’s work could help improve Lyme disease treatment overall—as well as tests for other infectious diseases.
Looking ahead: Expert judging panel to convene in October 2023
Following the accelerator, the cohort will submit concept papers that detail solution refinement, clinical and patient input, and a roadmap from lab to market.
The competition judging panel—composed of experts across biology, clinical and technology translation, patient experience and advocacy, diagnostic science and technology, exponential innovation, and ethics—will evaluate eligible submissions according to official Phase 2 evaluation criteria. Based on the judges’ evaluations, they will recommend up to five Phase 2 winners of the LymeX Diagnostics Prize.
The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation has made a generous $10 million pledge to the LymeX Diagnostics Prize. HHS and the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation awarded $1 million in Phase 1 of the LymeX Diagnostics Prize, with $9 million in additional LymeX prizes projected to be available in future phases, including Phase 2. 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.
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