CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan-developed rapid screening reagent put into trial production

04/23/2020 01:30 PM
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Taipei, April 23 (CNA) A research team at Academia Sinica has developed a key reagent for a pioneering rapid screening test for the COVID-19 coronavirus disease and the technology has been transferred to seven companies, one or two of which will be chosen for possible mass production, James Liao (廖俊智), president of Taiwan's most prestigious research institution, said Thursday.

The team led by Yang An-suei (楊安綏), a research fellow at the institution's Genomics Research Center, has yielded the unprecedented results at unimaginable speed, Liao said at a legislative hearing, adding that it took only one month for the team to create a product prototype, compared with the three-six months normally required for such development.

He was responding to a question about the progress after Academia Sinica announced last month that the research team had synthesized monoclonal antibodies that can identify the protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The reagent will be able to provide COVID-19 test results within just 15 minutes, according to Academia Sinica.

Liao said that the method of producing the reagent was transferred to seven firms on April 10, which had already begun trial production of the testing kits, although the new product requires certification and approval from the Food and Drug Administration before they can hit the market.

Meanwhile, Academia Sinica said in a written report provided during the hearing that the institution plans to set up an infectious disease research facility under its Biomedical Translation Research Center.

The center will focus on the development of rapid testing kits and the research and development of therapeutic antibodies, antiviral drugs and vaccines, and the education of biotechnology professionals for infectious disease prevention and control.

According to Academia Sinica's plan, the new facility will hire a chief executive officer and eight research fellows, with operating expenses estimated to reach NT$220 million (US$7.31 million) per year.

(By Wu Hsin-yun and Evelyn Kao)

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