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Single but Quick Test. News of the Instant Coronavirus Test

21 April 2020

By Irina Shlionskaya

In the case of the coronavirus, diagnosis poses a significant problem. The fact is that today it takes at least few days to detect the infection. A lot of things can happen for these days, for example, a person will have time to infect someone or their condition will seriously deteriorate... But very soon the situation is likely to change. Thus, in Russia and abroad, new test systems have already been developed, allowing to get the results of the analysis in just half an hour!

It is now impossible to determine whether a person is infected. Healthy-looking people may be infected, and the signs of SARS do not yet indicate the infection with the coronavirus. Even the measurement of temperature in this regard does not give anything, since the temperature can increase for a variety of reasons, while not even all the “coronavirus-infected persons” have it. It depends on the individual characteristics of the body.

Such uncertainty causes huge inconveniences both for potential patients and doctors. A person arriving from the places with a bad epidemiological situation or contacting those arrived from there, having signs of infection, is sent to a strict quarantine, where he/she must wait for the test results. At the same time, if this person gets to an infectious hospital, he/she can be infected by other patients.

The express testing system will allow finding out quickly enough whether an individual has a suspected infection, and based on the results, letting him/her go home, hospitalizing, or sending to home isolation.

Pilot tests of the Evotech-Mirai Genomics system are scheduled to start in April. The accuracy of the rapid tests of the Russian-Japanese company EMG, which allow determining the presence of the coronavirus, is almost 100%.

The method of isothermic molecular diagnostics is used here. This reduces testing time more than four times compared to the standard PCR (polymerase chain reaction) technology.

However, the PCR test systems, which are used today, allow to simultaneously examine up to 96 samples of biological material, whereas Evotech-Mirai Genomics can work with only one sample at a time. However, this is compensated by the high test processing rate, commented Alexander Lukashev, Director of the Institute of Medical Parasitology, Tropical and Vector-borne Diseases named after E. I. Martsinovsky of the Sechenov University. It is planned that in the future the system will allow processing of 2.5 mln tests per week.

Another development was made in the science city of Troitsk, a part of New Moscow. Employees of the Troitsk Engineering Center (TEC), part of the TechnoSpark Group of Companies, built the Indicator-BIO device. In a disposable microfluidic cartridge, the reagent is poured from a pipette, followed by the placement of the test material therein. As we know, for the patients with the suspected coronavirus infection it is a swab from the nose or throat. Then the program starts the PCR cycle. After about 30 minutes, the curves on the display will show the presence or absence of pathogens. By the way, it can be not only the notorious coronavirus but also other viruses or bacteria, say, individual strains of influenza viruses. 

Most PCR testing devices can be used in the laboratory. Indicator-BIO can be used “in the field”: in airports, customs, and in admission offices of medical institutions.

At the same time, the device costs ten times less than, say, its American counterpart Cepheid GeneXpert II. So far, six test kits have been built at the TEC.

Since 2016, the center has been cooperating with the Gamalei Institute of Biology and Epidemiology and the Pirogov Medical University. At the end of 2018, the development of Indicator-BIO, commissioned by the Pirogov Medical University, began. As you can see, this was long before the appearance of the information about the coronavirus. The work on the device was carried out under the National Chemical and Biological Safety System target program of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation. Other companies of the Troitsk TechnoSpark are involved in the creation of Indicator-BIO. 

The optical part was taken over by TEN Optics, the manufacture of mechanical parts—by TEN fab, and BioSpark was responsible for the biological component.

Bioanalytics came to us as an order for contract development,” says Yevgeny Gorsky, CEO of TEC. “Our desire to take on any crazy projects allowed us to get this job. Multidisciplinarity is the most difficult thing in them. Biologists and engineers often need an interpreter. We were lucky, our partners included physicists, who have later become biologists, and have been able to understand and establish communication.” The launch of the device was planned by the end of this year. The emergence of the dangerous Chinese virus made adjustments in our lives. We had to shift the timing. “Normally, the preparation of design documentation would take a year, according to the current plan the device goes into circulation in July, and we think to accelerate further, but it is more dependent on the supply of components,” commented Gorsky. “We are sometimes asked why it takes so long, but two months is a super-short period for instrumentation!” If everything goes as it should, the production of the devices will reach 50-100 pieces per month.

Probably, if portable test systems are developed, they can be purchased over time in pharmacies or drug stores, as is the case with pregnancy tests.

But still, there is a small percentage of false testimony, no wonder the tests are repeatedly re-checked. Experts warn that at home, the probability of getting unreliable results is higher. Therefore, if you suspect that you have the dangerous infection, it is better not to rely on the device bought in the store, and to turn to the doctors.

Source: Uchitelskaya gazeta, 21.04.2020

Reference

The TechnoSpark Group of Companies, a part of the investment network of the Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs, is involved in all aspects of venture creation: from establishing a start-up to its sale. The TechnoSpark Group of Companies is in the hardware industry, working in areas, such as robotics in logistics, energy storage systems, hi-tech medical equipment, diamond optics, braided composites, optical and industrial surfaces, genomics, industrial microbiology, thin-film integrated photovoltaics, additive technologies and flexible electronics. The Group of Companies is in first place according to the National rating of Russia’s most effective technology parks and was included in the National Rating of Russian Fast-growing Technology Companies, TechUp 2019. It is also a part of the community of startup studios, the Global Startup Studio Network (GSSN).

For more information about the company, visit technospark.ru