Tech Transfer eNews Blog

VCU researcher develops method to diagnose COVID-19 in minutes


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: June 24th, 2020

A researcher at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has developed an extremely rapid, experimental molecular diagnostic assay that decreases the amount of time it takes to diagnose COVID-19.

Rebecca Martin of the VCU Massey Cancer Center worked with students Jared Farrar and Joseph Lownik to develop the technology, which uses rapid RNA extraction to enable a total detection time of 3.5 minutes from swab to diagnosis. Whereas the polymerase chain reaction method is slow but sensitive, and while the antigen-based method is fast but not as sensitive, Martin’s technique is both fast and sensitive.

“When results can be obtained in just a few minutes, diagnosis and treatment can be provided on the initial care visit without sending samples to a central lab,” says Martin. “This methodology could provide accurate disease diagnostics on-site.”

Martin and her team received a grant from the VCU COVID-19 Rapid Research Funding Opportunity, an initiative aimed at quickly pivoting or expanding research related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Martin has filed provisional patent applications for the technology and is seeking FDA approval to use the test on patients.

Although her prototype is not currently practical for point-of-care use, Martin aims to find partners to help take the technology out of the lab and into the marketplace. “We look forward to collaborating with the industry to develop an implementation for use in the clinic for COVID-19 diagnostics, as well as syndromic pathogen panels that can be used in testing for many different respiratory pathogens,” Martin says.

Source: Medical Xpress

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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