CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan researchers develop multi-functional COVID-19 rapid test

10/27/2020 10:10 PM
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The COVID-19 rapid tester developed by NCTU / CNA photo Oct. 27, 2020
The COVID-19 rapid tester developed by NCTU / CNA photo Oct. 27, 2020

Taipei, Oct. 27 (CNA) Researchers at Taiwan's National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) have developed a COVID-19 rapid test that can detect the stage of an individual's infection and produce results in less than five minutes, the university said Tuesday.

The chip-based diagnostic system, which uses blood samples as small as 0.02 milliliters, was unveiled at a press conference by lead researcher and NCTU professor Lin Yi-ping (林一平) and the project's three corporate partners -- AgriTalk Tech Inc., AllBio Science Inc. and Bio Smart Co.

Chen Wen-liang (陳文亮), a professor at NCTU's Department of Biological Science and Technology, said levels of the virus -- known as the viral load -- and the methods for detecting it vary depending on whether an infection is still in its incubation period or its early, middle or late stages.

CNA video

Compared to standard COVID-19 rapid tests, which simply produce a positive or negative result, the NCTU test determines the stage of the infection based on antibody, antigen and nucleic acid measurements, he said.

According to Chen, the test's accuracy, stability and reproducibility are all in the 94-96 percent range and meet international guidelines set by the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute.

Meanwhile, AllBio CEO Li Chang-wei (李彰威) said the test's small size and the ability to upload its results to a cloud storage system for easy patient notification make it suitable for use in airports, medical facilities and large-scale public gatherings.

CNA photo Oct. 27, 2020
CNA photo Oct. 27, 2020

Currently, the team is preparing to submit its research to an institutional review board and will simultaneously seek an emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said Bio Smart CEO Wang Yu-kuo (王裕國).

If the process goes smoothly, the test could go into mass production early next year, he said.

(By Phoenix Hsu and Matthew Mazzetta)

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