Biopharmaceutical company Heat Biologics is collaborating with the University of Miami to develop a Covid-19 point-of-care diagnostic kit.
The test will require a pharyngeal throat swab and deliver results within 30 minutes. The results appear on a paper strip in a similar fashion to a pregnancy test, with one line indicating a negative result and two lines indicating a positive result.
Current tests for Covid-19 often rely on expensive thermal cylinders that take five to six hours to produce results, or require blood draws to detect antibodies which indicate exposure.
Preliminary research suggests that the Heat Biologics test is specific to the virus which causes Covid-19 and will not cross-react to other coronavirus subtypes. Researchers also expect the test to be less expensive to produce than others currently in development, while still delivering quicker results, meaning it can be easily scaled and deployed internationally.
By using molecular recognition and amplification of the target virus, the test should allow for detection of the disease within a couple of days of exposure. Tests that detect antibodies can be less effective at these early stages as they have yet to form in the body.
Detecting the virus earlier, before many people have started to show symptoms, could play a significant role in helping to curb the spread of the disease. If a patient knows they have the disease at an earlier stage they can immediately self-isolate and bypass the risk of infecting other people while asymptomatic.
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Heat Biologics CEO Jeff Wolf said: “We believe this point-of-care diagnostic will address many of the challenges facing existing tests, including time to readout and cost. We look forward to providing further updates on this platform in the near future.”
As well as the test, Heat Biologics and the University of Miami are also working together to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.