WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- A new one-step, noninvasive coronavirus test reportedly has the ability to deliver fast and accurate results.
- The test only makes use of a small sample of a person’s saliva and enzymes and chemicals that are easy to procure.
- Compared to the currently available tests that often have delayed results, the new test can deliver results within 30 minutes or less.
Dr. Zev Williams, a reproductive endocrinologist who runs the Columbia University Fertility Center in New York, has developed a noninvasive coronavirus test that can deliver accurate results within 30 minutes or less.
The new procedure involves placing a small sample of a person’s saliva into a tube that contains enzymes and a compound that causes a chemical reaction. This tube is then warmed up with a heat block.
If the sample is positive for the virus, the liquid in the tube turns yellow. If it’s negative, it turns red.
Williams explained, “We wanted to design a single step test where all the work was being done by enzymes and chemicals rather than cartridges and components,” adding that enzymes and chemicals are easy to procure.
According to a preliminary study published by Williams on MedRxiv, the test can detect even a low concentration of the virus.
Williams explained, “Low limits of detection help ensure that you can detect the virus in infected individuals, even if they are asymptomatic.”
The study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, recorded a specificity of 100 percent and a sensitivity of 97 percent.
Specificity pertains to the test’s ability to correctly identify patients who are not infected. Sensitivity pertains to the test’s ability to correctly identify infected patients.
For instance, the test didn’t deliver a false positive result when the sample was negative. Meanwhile, the test correctly detected a positive sample 97 percent of the time.
Columbia University partnered with Sorrento Therapeutics, which is licensing the test.
The chairman and CEO of Sorrento, Dr. Henry Ji, described the test as “very, very simple, very fast and is extremely accurate.”
“Currently the accuracy of other tests is not there,” he added.
If the test proves successful in further testing, Williams hopes that the ability of the test to give fast results can help initiate quarantine and contact tracing much earlier — which can help curb the spread of the disease.
The currently available tests involve a nasal swab and specialized laboratories and machinery. This type of test often leads to delayed results — ranging from days to weeks — and thus lead to delayed quarantine.
Dr. Alexis Nahama, SVP of regulatory affairs at Sorrento, stated, “We need to bring the testing to the people versus taking the people’s samples and taking them to the lab because that’s where it breaks apart today.”
The saliva test is still set to undergo further testing and studies by Sorrento. The company will then apply for FDA emergency authorization next month.
According to Williams, the cost per test is expected to be under $15.
Source: New York Post