Researchers at the University of Strathclyde, Scotland, are creating a saliva-based biosensor Covid-19 test that is quick, low cost and can be produced in bulk.
The team developed the new test by taking inspiration from glucose test strips used for checking blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.
Users can test themselves by placing saliva directly onto the test strip where the measurement is run by the device and the result is displayed.
This method would alleviate the need for nasopharyngeal swabs, which can be uncomfortable.
Furthermore, recent experiments have shown that the test can detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in 15 minutes.
Identical to a lateral flow test, the new rapid test can be used in the field to permit individuals in community settings to check their Covid-19 status.
The experimental technology has been patented and the team will convert the proof-of-concept test into a working model.
It is being marketed in the form of a spin-out firm, Aureum Diagnostics. The company will be backed by Norcliffe Capital, which will advance the test into a CE-marked product for a real-world setting.
The company plans to make the test’s first version available for emergency use in a year, with a fully CE-marked test available within two years.
University of Strathclyde biomedical engineering department lead investigator Dr Damion Corrigan said: “The test would provide a scalable route to sensitive, specific, rapid and low-cost testing for Covid-19, but in addition could serve as a low-cost tool to rapidly diagnose other respiratory viruses and determine whether someone has Covid-19, flu or rhinovirus.
“This means it could enable screening of workers, at very low cost, for example in their place of work, identifying and isolating those with the disease and enabling those recovered to go back to work.”
Researchers noted that the Covid-19 test could be manufactured in bulk for $0.28 (20 pence) per piece.