c-FIND is a fast and accurate new test that has the potential to detect multiple viral, bacterial or fungal infections within minutes. 

The test is being developed into a portable, point-of-care diagnostic device that could transform Australia’s ability to provide targeted clinical care and respond to pandemics and biosecurity threats.

Is c-FIND available now? 

Model of the c-FIND diagnostic device
A model of the c-FIND diagnostic device

The test is currently being developed into a portable, point-of-care diagnostic that could be ready for implementation in Australian healthcare settings within 24 months.

What is a point-of-care test?

Point-of-care testing is when patient testing and diagnosis can be performed on the spot by a healthcare professional, as opposed to a sample being taken and sent away to another location for assessment.

What’s involved in taking the test? 

Once fully developed, operation of the c-FIND diagnostic device would involve taking a blood, mucus or saliva sample from a patient and – with minimal preparation – applying this to a small cartridge. The cartridge would then be inserted into the device to rapidly screen for as many as eight different viral, fungal or bacterial organisms at a time.

How does it work? 

c-FIND is based on CRISPR technology. It uses Cas enzymes combined with ‘bait’ RNA molecules that are designed to detect the genome of a pathogen (disease-causing microbes). If the pathogen’s genome is present in a sample, it will bind to the bait. This combination of the genome plus bait will then be cut by the Cas enzyme, which then goes on to cleave a fluorescent reporter sequence causing the emission of light.

Simply put, the use of CRISPR as a genomic detection tool allows even the faintest genetic traces of disease-causing microbes to be detected causing the device to light up when an infection is identified.

What are the limitations of current tests?

Current tests are resource intensive and more expensive to run. This is because they require highly trained staff and a centralised laboratory to process samples. The need to send samples away to another location means it usually takes days or even weeks to return a result. 

In clinical care settings, there are many conditions for which tests do not exist, are sub-optimal or take time to process. Delays in accurate diagnosis can lead to patients having expensive drug treatments, or invasive procedures that may not have been necessary, as well as an increased chance of disease transmission. 

What are the benefits of c-FIND? 

Development of the c-FIND diagnostic device would mean the introduction of a fast, reliable, easy to use, portable test that would be able to screen for more than one infection at a time, be easily adapted to screen for new and emerging infections and be much less expensive to run than existing tests

How is c-FIND funded? 

Following a successful bid for $1M in funding from the Australian Government Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Frontiers program, the c-FIND research team is applying for up to $100M over five years through the MRFF Stage 2 funding process. 

Further support would help to take the c-FIND program of research to the next level and would enable the launch of 13 clinical trials to rigorously assess implementation of the c-FIND diagnostic device in Australian healthcare settings with urgent, unmet diagnostic needs.

Who developed c-FIND? 

c-FIND was developed by Walter and Eliza Hall Institute medical researchers who are world-leaders in infectious diseases research and CRISPR technology, in collaboration with Melbourne Health, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, The Royal Children’s Hospital, University of Melbourne, as well as industry partner and local biomedical technology company, Axxin Pty Ltd.

What tests are currently used for COVID-19? 

The most common tests for COVID-19 are DNA amplification tests such as PCR and antibody detection tests. PCR tests generally only look for one disease at a time, are resource intensive and take days to return a result. Antibody detection tests can only show if a person has encountered SARS-CoV-2 in the past and cannot detect whether a person is currently infected. 

Are there other CRISPR tests out there? 

All current CRISPR disease detection tests are in the proof-of-concept phase. No other programs using CRISPR technology in this way have the extensive clinical networks to support the implementation of the test. 

Are there tests like c-FIND overseas? 

Outside Australia, there are several other projects using CRISPR technology to develop diagnostic tests for COVID-19. However, c-FIND is distinctive as it will be multiplexed which means it can screen for more than one infection at a time.

How would c-FIND improve Australian clinical care? 

Equipping clinicians with c-FIND to diagnose infections accurately and even determine antimicrobial resistance on the spot could be a game-changer for improving targeted patient care. For example, in cancer care, the introduction of c-FIND could save high-risk patients from waiting days or weeks for test results to come back whilst having expensive drug treatments, or invasive procedures that may not have been necessary.  

How would c-FIND improve Australia’s response to current and future pandemics? 

c-FIND could prevent disease spread and save lives by screening for life-threatening diseases, including SARS-CoV-2, enabling people who are infected to be identified, isolated and treated. The ability to obtain an accurate diagnosis in a short period of time is critical to the control of future pandemics.  

For example, c-FIND devices could be used in Australian airports, seaports and other points of entry for communicable diseases; in hospitals and clinics to assist with patient admissions, allowing patients to start or continue their required treatment or procedure without disruption; at aged care facilities preventing outbreaks and enabling residents to see their loved ones; and at GP and fever clinics to avoid patient congestion and community transmission. 


For further information



Three researchers in a laboratory with model diagnostic device

Institute researchers have developed a fast, new test for infections and infectious diseases that could transform Australia’s ability to provide targeted clinical care and respond to pandemics and biosecurity threats. 

Health Minister Greg Hunt with Institute researchers

The Australian Government will invest $3M in Walter and Eliza Hall Institute research programs that are developing new classes of medicines for COVID-19.

Visualisation of SARS-CoV-2

Our researchers are working towards better approaches to diagnose, treat and prevent the spread of coronaviruses, both to address the current COVID-19 global outbreak as well as in preparedness for likely future coronaviral disease outbreaks.

Clinician with patient

Australia's first clinical trial to determine whether hydoroxychloroquine can prevent COVID-19 is open. The trial is recruiting frontline and allied healthcare workers from hospitals across the country.