The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation (Cohen Foundation) have announced that the LymeX Diagnostics Prize received 52 Phase 1 submissions. From May to August 2022, the first phase of this Lyme Innovation Accelerator (LymeX) competition called on experts to submit innovative detection methods that will advance Lyme disease diagnostics. The ultimate goal of the multiphase competition is to nurture the development of diagnostics toward Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review.

Experts answer the call to collaborate and innovate

Hailing from a range of organizations — including academia, innovation centers, major diagnostics corporations, and startup labs — entrants submitted a breadth of proposed solutions for detecting active Lyme disease infections in people. From adapting techniques such as radiology imaging, genomics sequencing, and microfluidics to translating approaches used in diagnosing other infectious diseases, including COVID-19, the concept papers proposed a range of high-potential ideas.

Utilizing open innovation to support development of novel diagnostics

By utilizing an open innovation structure, which is augmenting traditional grantmaking, the LymeX Diagnostics Prize is able to offer no-strings-attached funding alongside access to key resources and collaboration opportunities — incentivizing a diverse group of experts to come together and address an unmet patient need. 

It is a priority for the Biden-Harris administration to protect and expand Americans’ access to quality, affordable health care. The success of Phase 1 of the LymeX Diagnostics Prize competition has the potential to address Americans’ critical need for an accurate Lyme disease diagnostic test.  Phase 1 demonstrated that the competition’s open innovation model can accelerate scientific breakthroughs while fostering collaboration and partnerships.

Judging underway in $1 million Phase 1

A multidisciplinary group of technical reviewers and judges are assessing submissions according to official Phase 1 evaluation criteria. Based on this evaluation, the judging panel will recommend up to 10 winners, who will each receive an equal share of the $1 million Phase 1 prize pool and an invitation to participate in a proposed Phase 2. 

“We are thrilled by the wide range of solutions and look forward to working with the LymeX Diagnostics Prize’s community of collaborators to advance the next generation of Lyme disease diagnostics. Through our $10 million pledge to the prize competition, we are committed to strengthening our public-private LymeX partnership with HHS.”
Alexandra Cohen, President of the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation

If the proposed Phase 2 moves forward, the winners of Phase 1 will be invited to participate in the second phase of the competition. LymeX anticipates the proposed second phase will invite Phase 1 winners to prototype and refine their solutions with additional validation data and clinical protocol development.

What comes next: Projected $9 million in prizes in proposed future phases

At the discretion of HHS and the Cohen Foundation, and subject to availability of future funding, at least one additional phase may follow Phase 2. Future phases are expected to focus on clinical and nonclinical validation of diagnostic tests that detect active infection by Lyme-disease-causing bacteria, as well as readiness for regulatory submission and market entry. Thanks to a $10 million pledge to the LymeX Diagnostics Prize from the Cohen Foundation, $9 million in additional LymeX prizes are projected to be available in proposed future phases.

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