Oxford scientists develop rapid virus testing technology
Scientists from the University of Oxford’s Engineering Science Department and the Oxford Suzhou Centre for Advance Research (OSCAR) have developed a rapid testing technology for COVID-19. The team have been working to improve test capabilities as the virus spreads internationally.
The new test gives results in just half an hour – significantly faster than the one and a half to two hours needed for previous RNA tests. It also requires a less complicated instrument, a simple head-block which maintains a constant temperature for RNA reverse transcription and DNA amplification.
Furthermore, the developed technology is sensitive, meaning that patients in early stages of the infection may be identified sooner, potentially helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It can produce results easily read by the naked eye and therefore potentially useful in rural areas or community health care centres. The test has built-in checks to prevent false positives or negatives, which project lead, Prof Wei Huang, says has produced highly accurate results.The technology has been validated with real clinical samples at Shenzhen Luohou People’s Hospital in China, who applied the rapid detection kits on 16 clinic samples, including eight positives and eight negatives. The test results using the kits were all successful.
Scientists at Oxford University are now working to develop an integrated device so that the test can be used at clinics, airports, or even for home use. They are planning to run clinical validations within the UK and are exploring options for production of the new test kits.
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