Summary: CARB-X is awarding $1 million to diagnostics and health tech company Scout to develop a new point-of-care test that aims to detect and differentiate between Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis quickly and more affordably.


  1. STI Scout utilizes Scout’s patented Loop-de-Loop chemistry to enable rapid and accurate detection of Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis.
  2. Scout’s system could offer at-home testing for STIs, enhancing access to diagnostic services, especially among patient populations that require routine testing. 
  3. CARB-X’s support for Scout’s STI Scout test aligns with its mission to address drug-resistant bacterial infections, which pose a significant global health threat. 

Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) will award up to $1 million to diagnostics and health tech company Scout to demonstrate proof-of-concept and feasibility ahead of the development of a new point-of-care test that will detect and differentiate between Neisseria gonorrhoeae (Ng) and Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct). 

The STI Scout Test

The test, STI Scout, is quick and inexpensive, with a turnaround time of 30 minutes and costs anticipated to be less than half of other options, according to the company

Additionally, STI Scout can use either first void urine or vaginal swabs, and future tests will be able to guide therapy for gonorrhea treatment based on antibiotic susceptibility. STI Scout uses the Scout Hub to run and the Scout Connect mobile app, which provides instructions, tracks results, and eventually will allow patients to connect digitally to a healthcare provider.

“Our goal is to improve access to accurate diagnostics for everyone. Scout’s approach benefits clinicians and patients by providing timely, accurate results which can lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of patients. Importantly, Scout also could assist healthcare providers in determining which treatments are appropriate for the patient and can assist combating the spread of antibiotic resistance bacteria” says Cam Ball, PhD, Scout CTO and Co-Founder.

Expanding STI Testing

Scout is leveraging their patented Loop-de-Loop chemistry, a proven isothermal technology that was validated for highly accurate SARS-CoV-2 detection with Scout’s system, which has an FDA Emergency Use Authorization for point-of-care settings and an authorization for use in over-the-counter (OTC) settings pending. The CARB-X award will help Scout expand its test menu to offer simple and efficient point-of-care testing at STI clinics and urgent care centers and as a potential future option, an at-home test for STIs.

Impact of Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is the second most reported bacterial STI. Approximately 82 million people were infected globally in 2020. Patients with gonorrhea can face serious health effects, including pelvic inflammatory disease, chronic pelvic pain, and infertility. Since patients do not always exhibit symptoms, reported cases may only capture a fraction of the true burden.

Further reading: Is Social Stigma Hobbling Syphilis Testing?

A Home-Based Test

Decentralizing testing could greatly benefit patients, as clinics and urgent care centers could have fast, accurate, and affordable tests enabling same-day results which would expedite appropriate treatment. Notably, the low-cost design of the consumables and simple-to-use interface could enable Scout’s test to be used globally, expanding access to Ng testing to the lowest levels of the healthcare system in resource-limited settings. With further development, the Scout system tests also could be used at home, which is especially valuable among patient populations that are testing routinely.

“There is a need for affordable, accurate, and easy-to-use tests that expand access to testing for and proper treatment of Neisseria gonorrhoeae to urgent care centers, STI clinics, and the like,” says Erin Duffy, PhD, R&D Chief of CARB-X. “Given the prevalence of gonorrhea globally, and the growing prevalence of drug-resistant gonorrhea, to diagnose quickly and affordably would allow physicians at all levels of the healthcare system to treat rapidly with the most appropriate therapy. The impact of a test like Scout’s could be vast.”

Addressing Drug-Resistant Bacterial Infections 

An estimated 1.27 million people died due to drug-resistant bacterial infections in 2019, a death toll that exceeded HIV/AIDS (864,000) and malaria (643,000) in that same year. CARB-X is building a pipeline of high-value products to prevent, diagnose and treat bacterial infections, including those that have become resistant to antibiotics, according to the organization. CARB-X emphasizes performance characteristics that will allow the broadest use of these products against infections driving the greatest global morbidity and mortality.

Featured image: Cam Ball, PhD, Scout CTO and Co-Founder. Photo: Scout