Fabricio Bloisi invests in biotechnology startup

President of iFood announces investment in BioLinker, which created a self-test that detects coronavirus variants

Fabricio Bloisi, president of iFood, announced investment in BioLinker, startup biotechnology company that in April 2022 developed a Covid-19 self-test capable of detecting all variants of the new coronavirus. Bloisi was one of the mentors for monitoring the growth and management of the synthetic biology company and will now be partner and member of the administrative board, informs the Fapesp Agency.

The value of the investment was not revealed. The resources will be used to expand the development and production capacity of the company's new headquarters, in Cotia (SP), built from a contribution made by an angel investor.

“I believe that biotechnology will improve many aspects of human existence within an important movement to help cure diseases and increase people's longevity and quality of life,” said Fabricio. He explains that the investment aligns with his desire to promote female and northeastern entrepreneurship. BioLinker was founded by Mona Oliveira, a scientist from Bahia with a PhD in biochemistry and nanosciences.

Fabricio also hopes to help more entrepreneurs start investing in scientific and technological companies so that they can count on other sources of financing and a greater volume of resources to gain scale. “I think this is essential for Brazilian economic growth, in addition to being a strong generator of innovation for other areas of the economy”, he explained.

BioLinker has developed a biotechnological platform to discover, develop and produce proteins using a technique that does not require the use of living cells (known as cell-free). This has allowed the company to produce and purify recombinant proteins on a larger scale. “The process is scalable, which makes commercial protein production possible,” said Oliveira, co-CEO of the company.

These recombinant proteins have been used by research laboratories and industries to develop biopharmaceutical products aimed at treating cancer, developing healthier foods, improving agricultural crop yields and monitoring cases of diseases such as Covid-19. 

Self-test that detects coronavirus variants

In April 2022, BioLinker was in the news when it announced that it had developed a rapid self-test to detect the new coronavirus. It can be done at home, gives results in 15 minutes and is sensitive to all variants of the pathogen. The inputs used in the exam were all prepared by startup.

Before that, the company was in the development phase of a serological test for the same disease in partnership with researcher Frank Crespilho, from the São Carlos Chemistry Institute (IQSC) at the University of São Paulo (USP). This test, however, detects antibodies and is carried out in a laboratory.

But the wave of new cases at the beginning of 2022 made plans change. “Although research on serological testing was already further along, we changed our focus to rapid testing because resources are limited and there were already interested customers,” said Mona.

Research into the serological test, which shows whether the person has had any contact with the virus, has not been abandoned. According to Mona, it will also be important to help improve the screening of patients with Covid-19 and carry out epidemiological control of the disease in Brazil, as it allows the level of protection against the virus to be assessed.

The serological test partnership also yielded another fruit, a second startup called BioLinker Diagnóstica, aimed at the end consumer and focused on developing tests for 20 diseases, including Covid-19, dengue fever, Chikungunya fever, Zika virus and influenza.

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