Oxford develops rapid diagnostic test to detect Covid-19 within 5mins

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Oxford University claimed that scientists from its Physics department have developed an extremely rapid diagnostic test for Covid-19.

The rapid diagnostic test can detect and identify viruses within five minutes, said the UK-based university.

The method can be used to differentiate the SARS-CoV-2 virus from negative clinical samples and also from other common respiratory pathogens like influenza and seasonal viruses with high accuracy.

It has been published on the preprint server MedRxiv.

The procedure begins with the quick labeling of virus particles in the sample with short fluorescent DNA strands by directly working on throat swabs from Covid-19 patients, without the necessity of genome extraction, and also purification or amplification of the viruses.

The images of the sample will be collected using a microscope, with each image consisting of hundreds of fluorescently-labeled viruses.

Machine-learning software is then used for detecting the virus present in the sample quickly and automatically. This approach utilizes the fact that different virus types have differences in their fluorescence labeling as they differ in their surface chemistry, shape, and size.

Oxford University scientists develop rapid diagnostic test to detect Covid-19 within five mins.

Oxford University scientists develop a rapid diagnostic test to detect Covid-19 within five mins. Image courtesy of the University of Oxford.

The scientists collaborated with clinicians at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford to validate the assay on samples of Covid-19 patients, which were confirmed by conventional RT-PCR methods.

Professor Achilles Kapanidis from Oxford University Department of Physics said: “Unlike other technologies that detect a delayed antibody response or that require expensive, tedious and time-consuming sample preparation, our method quickly detects intact virus particles; meaning the assay is simple, extremely rapid, and cost-effective”.

The Oxford University researchers are planning to develop an integrated device for testing across businesses, music venues, airports, and others.

Presently, the scientists are working with Oxford University Innovation and a couple of external business or finance advisors to establish a spinout. The scientists are looking for investment to speed up the translation of the rapid diagnostic test for Covid-19 into a fully integrated device that can be used as a real-time diagnostic platform that can detect multiple virus threats.

They expect to incorporate the company by the end of 2020, and to begin product development early next year, and have an approved device available within six months of that time.

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