UK researchers develop Covid-19 test that delivers result in less time

6 January 2021 (Last Updated January 6th, 2021 14:33)

Researchers at the University of Birmingham in the UK have developed a new Covid-19 test that reduces the testing time from 30 to less than five minutes.

UK researchers develop Covid-19 test that delivers result in less time
The test, which can deliver precise results, does not need the samples to be treated at high temperatures. Credit: Pete Linforth / Pixabay.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham in the UK have developed a new Covid-19 test that reduces the testing time from 30 to less than five minutes.

The test, which can deliver precise results, does not need the samples to be treated at high temperatures and can be carried out with the help of standard laboratory equipment.

The researchers said that the method could deliver a fast and sufficiently sensitive result.

Researchers have also shown the rapidity and sensitivity of the test using the Public Health England-provided RNA sample of the patient.

University of Birmingham School of Biosciences professor Tim Dafforn said: “We have designed a new method for testing that combines the ease of use and speed of lateral flow testing with the inherent sensitivity of an RNA test.

“It features reagents that can be used in existing point-of-care devices and meets the need for testing in high-throughput, near-patient, settings where people may be waiting in line for their results.”

Compared to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests that require converting the RNA to DNA and amplifying the material many times, the latest test has a single step and uses the alternative amplification method called Exponential Amplification Reaction (EXPAR).

Furthermore, the test uses short, single strands of DNA for the replication process.

The Birmingham test can be used on standard laboratory equipment at lower temperatures versus PCR tests, which need higher temperatures.

A patent application, covering the method for amplifying RNA sequences and for identifying RNA from the sample, has been filed by the University of Birmingham Enterprise.

University of Birmingham School of Chemistry professor Jim Tucker said: “The EXPAR technique has been tried and tested over several years, but we’ve been able to apply it in a new way to detect Covid-19.”