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August 5, 2022

University of Birmingham licenses new Covid-19 testing method

The new RTF-EXPAR technology can be used with testing methods that eliminate the need for specialised lab equipment.

The University of Birmingham in the UK has entered a licensing agreement with Covid-19 test provider Innova Medical Group for commercialising its new testing technology in the global markets.

The new reverse transcription-free exponential amplification reaction (RTF-EXPAR) technology provides detection in ten minutes.

It provides a quick, accurate, highly sensitive and simple test for detecting Covid-19, as revealed in detailed test assessments.

This allows the test to be installed at places including airport arrival terminals, entertainment venues and in remote settings where clinical testing is not available.

The RTF-EXPAR technology is said to be as sensitive as the PCR and LAMP tests, which are currently used in hospital settings.

It can be mainly used with testing methods that eliminate the need for specialised lab equipment while reducing the wait time for test results.

The university noted that the new testing platform is also being adapted for detecting Covid-19 and other viruses such as human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer.

Furthermore, Innova Medical is planning to accelerate the launch of RTF-EXPAR globally for widespread use by 2023.

University of Birmingham professor Tim Dafforn said: “The RTF test rapidly amplifies small quantities of viral genetic material, producing a detectable signal within ten minutes, which is much faster than PCR or LAMP testing and even quicker than lateral flow tests.

“The reverse transcription and amplification steps slow down existing Covid-19 assays like LAMP and PCR, which are based on nucleic acid detection. Thus, an ideal test would be both sufficiently sensitive and speedy.

“The new RTF test achieves that goal in two ways, a new RNA-to-DNA conversion step we designed avoids reverse transcription, and the amplification step to generate the read-out signal uses EXPAR, an alternative DNA amplification process.”

In 2020, the university developed the Optically Pumped Magnetometer (OPM) sensor, which can measure weak magnetic signals in the brain.

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