The University of Tartu and the company Selfdiagnostics are cooperating on developing a rapid SARS-CoV-2 test enabling more rapid detection of coronavirus infection at a lower price. The new rapid test will significantly increase testing capacity and deliver greater resource efficiency. The project has been awarded an EIT Health product development grant by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.
The coronavirus pandemic has claimed thousands of lives and, according to assessments by the international researchers, the virus may cause mass outbreaks again during the flu season in autumn. Thus, it is important to prepare for a possible new spike in infections by increasing testing capability outside of central laboratories and hospitals.
The rapid test in development does not require any large equipment or special facilities. Therefore, it provides a pocket lab solution which guarantees mobile testing capability based on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique. The researchers believe the rapid test will help alleviate the burden on central testing systems and respond to exceptionally high testing needs. The test kit can be used by specialist and family doctors alike, as well as by pharmacists and care home medical staff.
"Similarly to existing methods, the test identifies the presence of virus RNA in a nasal swab, providing a reliable tool for detecting infection," said Kaido Kurrikoff, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Tartu Institute of Technology. “Our research aims to launch the rapid test already this autumn to help prepare for the next pandemic. The use of our technology will provide greater independence during a time when supply chains may be interrupted due to an emergency situation. Thus, such a capability and resource will help ensure national security and economic sustainability,” added CEO of Selfdiagnostics Marko Lehes.
Selfdiagnostics OÜ is an Estonian capital-based developer and producer of medical equipment. The company has been developing medical diagnostics methods and equipment in cooperation with the University of Tartu Institute of Technology for over ten years. In addition to experienced researchers and engineers, the project team also includes internationally recognised experts. The development of the coronavirus rapid test is financed by the EIT Health community of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.
Marko Lehes, CEO of Selfdiagnostics OÜ, +372 521 5105, marko.lehes [ät] selfdiagnostics.com
Kaido Kurrikoff, Senior Research Fellow in Molecular Biotechnology, University of Tartu Institute of Technology, +372 737 4871, kaido.kurrikoff [ät] ut.ee