Lab-free, DNA-based COVID-19 test uses saliva
The Imperial College London spin-out led by Regius Professor of Engineering, Chris Toumazou, co-founder and CEO, has proven clinically the COVID-19 RNA testing cartridges after a successful initial trial on COVID-19 patients. The evaluation, which began in recent days, will now involve large-scale clinical testing with a view to extensive national roll-out, as part of the drive to meet the UK government’s testing targets.
The Department of Health and Social Care has procured 10,000 DnaNudge COVID-19 RNA testing cartridges to roll out to clinical sites, and experts at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust are working with the Imperial College London and DnaNudge team to enable the new test to be available for patients and staff if it continues to prove successful.
A key advantage of DnaNudge’s solution is that the RNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test requires no sample handling and is able to deliver processing outside of a laboratory environment using the startup’s patented and miniaturised NudgeBox analyser. The saliva swab can be placed directly into the cartridge and then straight into the box for analysis.
“Early validation results for our technology in the COVID-19 patient study have been excellent. The DnaNudge test was developed as a lab-free, on-the-spot consumer service that can be delivered at scale, so we clearly believe it offers very significant potential in terms of mass population testing during the COVID-19 pandemic”, said Professor Toumazou, also founder of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College London.
“This is one of the most exciting technologies I’ve seen in this area, particularly because it avoids the need for any sample handling. Our early results are very encouraging and now we need to see how the test performs in different clinical settings and understand where it might have the biggest impact on care at this critical time”, added Professor Graham Cooke, NIHR Research Professor of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London, leading the clinical development.
The NudgeBox analyser integrates biochemistry microfluidics and electronics and leverages smartphone connectivity to readily display the results in a consumer-friendly interface. The DnaNudge in-store DNA testing service, which this coronavirus test is based on, was launched to consumers in November 2019. The service currently focuses on nutrition, analysing and mapping users’ genetic profile to key nutrition-related health traits. With the results of a quick, one-time test, customers can use a DnaNudge smartphone App or wrist-worn DnaBand to scan product barcodes in the majority of major UK supermarkets, and discover whether a food product is “red” or “green” for their unique genetic make-up.
DnaNudge – www.dnanudge.com