Cambridge, Mass. – November 24th, 2021 – Biobot Analytics announced today that they have successfully detected the presence of the influenza virus, which causes the flu, in wastewater. The R&D pilot was launched last month with a select group of Biobot customers and seeks to test the viability of wastewater epidemiology as a public health monitoring tool for influenza A and B virus.
Results as of today have been convincing, with multiple strong detections observed in wastewater samples. Influenza A virus detections have been more substantial than influenza B virus detections, which mirror clinical laboratory data reported by the CDC. This is particularly important as experts warn that we may have an especially bad flu season this year, citing a combination of factors including a lack of influenza activity last year, the reopening of schools, loosening of mask mandates, and increased traveling. These concerns are further reinforced as COVID-19 cases are once more on the rise, and data from the CDC shows an increase in influenza-like illness in recent weeks.
Recognizing the innovative role that wastewater data can play in the existing public health monitoring system for the seasonal flu, Biobot’s CEO and Cofounder, Dr. Mariana Matus, shared:
“The detection of influenza disease activity in wastewater corroborates findings from the CDC regarding the presence of influenza in the U.S. this year, after an extraordinarily quiet flu season last year. While more research needs to be done, we are encouraged by these early pilot results and are hopeful that the communities already testing for COVID-19 can tap into the same wastewater monitoring infrastructure to also monitor influenza in the near future.”
This pilot will run through the Spring of 2022, following the typical timeline of the annual flu season. Next steps involve performing genomic sequencing on the positive samples, and further research into how wastewater can be used as a leading indicator for flu similar to how it does for COVID-19. “This is a first step to expand the capabilities of our wastewater epidemiology platform, which has the potential to help track many more infectious diseases beyond COVID-19. We are excited to see great interest to participate in our flu pilot. We will reassess enrollment in early 2022, so we encourage interested communities and potential partners to reach out.” said Biobot’s President and Cofounder Newsha Ghaeli.
About Biobot Analytics Biobot Analytics is a global leader in wastewater epidemiology founded by Mariana Matus, Ph.D., the company’s CEO and Cofounder, and Newsha Ghaeli, President and Cofounder. Biobot works with government agencies nationwide, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Biobot is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., and has secured close to $30m in venture financing to expand its team of over 45 world-class scientists, data scientists, public health experts, and engineers. More information on our mission and technology is available at our website, www.biobot.io.