06.04.2020 change 06.04.2020

Gdańsk Researchers Working on Cheap and Rapid Coronavirus Tests

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A rapid coronavirus screening test several times cheaper than tests currently available is being developed by scientists from the Institute of Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine in Gdańsk and medical testing company SensDx.

Using just a throat swab, the scientists hope they will be able to cut tests down to just minutes.

Team leader Dr. Nidzworski said: “We take a swab, put it in a special buffer that breaks the virus, and then apply this buffer to the electrode. After a few minutes we will have a positive or negative result. Our goal is a screening solution, one that can be used universally. For example, tests can be used in workplaces before employees start their tasks.”

He added: “We need all kinds of quick tests, in every quantity, and even more tests. They must be widely available, because in the current situation we should examine each case and decide whether the person needs quarantine, whether the company should be closed because someone had contact with an infected person some time ago.”

According to the scientist, the tests which could cost as little as 100 PLN each, will be needed in the future and not just now as the coronavirus will stay with us for a longer period.

“From the moment we are sure that the test works, it should be registered within three to four weeks. Our reader and buffer for breaking down the virus are already registered and this allows us to speed up the entire procedure for implementing new tests,” he said. 

Dr. Dawid Nidzworski's team is the only one in Europe to be included in the list of the world’s TOP 5 startups fighting the coronavirus. The list was compiled after analysing 106 startups and companies searching for this type of solutions. 

In addition to the Polish team, the TOP 5 also includes two companies from the USA, one from Canada and one from Malaysia. The ranking has been prepared by StartUs Insights, a company based in Austria, dealing with scientific data, startups, technologies and business models.

Dr. Nidzworski's research team has already launched influenza virus detection tests. SensDx is currently developing a rapid screening test for CoV-2 virus proteins. Real-time PCR molecular tests offered by Warsaw Genomics and GeneMe Sp. z o.o. detect the genetic material of the virus. The molecular procedure requires a laboratory, qualified staff and takes several hours. Rapid tests will be used as a quick screening method, and molecular laboratory tests will be used to confirm positive cases.

Other Polish research centres are also working on various coronavirus tests, including the Małopolska Centre of Biotechnology of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków and the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry PAS in Poznań. (PAP)

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