founder

Dr. Maria Nagy Talks At-Home Antigen Tests for COVID-19

Summary

As all eyes are on vaccines and testing for COVD-19, Quorum X Diagnostics pivoted from working on a Fast Test for Pseudomonal Pneumonia. Now, under the leadership of Dr. Maria Nagy, the team is working to bring to market an at-home COVID-19 antigen test. To make this possible, the team is currently raising funds via Wefunder.

 

We sat down with Maria to learn more about how she plans to allocate funds, who makes up her impressive team, and more-

Olivia Strobl
What is the genesis story of quorum x diagnostics?
Maria Nagy

While working on my Ph.D., I read a journal article one day and immediately realized a new way to identify bacteria that was significantly cheaper, faster and easier than the standard culture method (which takes 3 days). I knew exactly what to do scientifically, but I did not know that a mere mortal could start a biotech company. I always said as soon as I find a “big” company developing my method, then I would go join that company. Fast forward 7 years and there was no “big” company working on my method. Then I was inspired by a speaker at a conference that I attended who spoke of how he built his own biotech company. Finally, it dawned on me, that I could start my own company, and we could build it ourselves. Hence, Quorum X Diagnostics was born.

Olivia Strobl
How do you plan on allocating funds raised in this round?
Maria Nagy

We will use the funds to optimize the prototype, manufacturing, clinicals and FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization.

Olivia Strobl
To what extent, if any, does the fda have to approve diagnostic tools?
Maria Nagy

We will be applying for something called Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). So, the tests and data are reviewed by the FDA, but the review process is not as vigorous as the FDA 510K process which can take several months. EUA can be as fast as 2 weeks.

Olivia Strobl
Can you talk to us about what enables your covid-19 test to be completed outside of a doctor’s office?
Maria Nagy

The test you see at the doctor’s office or the drive-thru locations are primarily PCR-based tests. In order to complete a PCR-based test, you need a piece of equipment the size of a small microwave, a CLIA certified laboratory, and a highly technical staff. Our test is a simple lateral flow test, kinda like a pregnancy test, but for COVID. So, the user will swab their own nose, put the sample in a reagent tube, squish it a couple of times, and then drip onto the test kit. After 15 min you will see 1 line or 2. The process is quite simple. We will also have a phone app that will provide an instruction video, and the user will take a picture of the result and the app program will help the user interpret the results if they are unsure. This app will also provide the option of connecting directly to a telemedicine service for further assistance based on the test results.

Olivia Strobl
Can you tell us about your other products?
Maria Nagy

We have a working prototype for the QXD-1 Fast Test for Pseudomonal Pneumonia. We halted working on this product when COVID hit to focus on the bigger problem. But we also have designs for several other rapid tests including a Mutliplex Test for pneumonia, Bronchitis, UTI, yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis. These would all be based on our unique proprietary technology.

Olivia Strobl
What is an antigen and what does testing for antigens tell us?
Maria Nagy

Most simply put, an antigen is a compound or protein that is produced by a virus or bacteria that triggers an immune response. Essentially, we are screening for a protein that is located on the outside of the virus. These viruses are covered with this protein. If the virus is there, the protein is there. The antigen test will allow us to know if you are in the middle of an active infection or if you are asymptomatic but shedding the virus.

Olivia Strobl
What are the biggest risks associated with your business?
Maria Nagy

Just like with all businesses there is the possibility of risk. There can be risks around the stability of the antibodies during high yield manufacturing. Or if we cannot achieve optimum sensitivity and specificity with our first choice antibodies. If either of these occurs we will shop other manufacturers until we find the right fit. 

There can [also] be risks around having individuals complete the test themselves that there is variation in results from person to person. To offset that we provide detailed instructions, a user’s video, and access to support. 

Olivia Strobl
Who is on your team and how are you uniquely positioned to win out in this market?
Maria Nagy

I have a Ph.D. with 14 years of experience in academia and the biotech industry with an emphasis on bacterial resistance and bacterial communication. 

Next is Dr. Angel Rivera (CTO), an MD/Ph.D. with 25+ years experience. He has authored 80 peer-reviewed papers. Additionally, we have a very active team of 5 advisors all either MD, PhD or MBA. In this regard, we have: 

  • Dr. Rodney Nash, Ph.D.-(CEO) of Jeevan Bioscience, (CSO) of Omni and on the Board of 5 hospitals;
  • Dr. Adam Bressler, M.D.-Director of Infectious Disease at Emory Hospital (fka Dekalb Hospital); 
  • Dr. Navdeep Jhita, M.D. NIH Post-Doctoral Fellow in Cancer Immunology and Vaccines, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Immunology, The Lowrance Center, Emory University; 
  • Mr. Azad Ur Rahman-10 years Former Deloitte Manager, Supply Chain Expert; 
  • And Mr. Eric Woods, an experienced researcher in materials science, chemistry and biology plus a former patent examiner.
Olivia Strobl
What does your business model look like?
Maria Nagy

Our business model is twofold: First, it is direct-to-consumer sales and secondly, we have a strong working relationship with a popular telemedicine service, Physicians 360. They are located in 50 states with drug store kiosks already in place. We are looking to partner with them for the fast dissemination of these tests into people’s hands.

Olivia Strobl
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like?
Maria Nagy

My vision is to develop a line of products based on our proprietary technology and build out the scientific infrastructure of the company. Once that’s achieved if there is a larger company that can take the vision further than we can due to distribution opportunities, that would be the time to exit.

We at KingsCrowd are excited to see where Maria and her team take the company. Quorum X Diagnostics is currently raising funds on Wefunder.

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About: Olivia Strobl

Olivia comes to KingsCrowd with a background in venture capital and technology. She spent time at Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused venture fund in Boston, before joining the KingsCrowd team. There she helped develop machine learning algorithms for the opportunity qualification of preseed and seed-stage startup companies. Prior to her time at Glasswing, Olivia worked in a lab studying the neural correlates of attention. She holds a degree in Neuroscience from Wellesley College.

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