Lab-free, DNA-based COVID-19 test uses saliva

April 15, 2020 //By Julien Happich
COVID-19
A provider of consumerized Lab-in-Cartridge DNA tests, British startup DnaNudge has repurposed its miniaturised NudgeBox analyser to detect COVID-19 from a saliva swab, within an hour.

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.


Professor Toumazou holding a Lab-in-Cartridge
DNA test module.

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.


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