Instead of taking several days to detect if someone has been infected by the coronavirus, a kit developed by Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore takes merely an hour to test and give result. It can also be useful in finding a potential vaccine, examining the proportion of population already infected, and for contact tracing.
Our bodies produce hundreds of antibodies but all of it cannot neutralize the virus. Researchers claim the test kit is the first of its kind to identify specific antibodies that prevent the coronavirus from infecting a patient's cells. The new test is faster and can be used in regular research without requiring specialized experts and equipment.
At a virtual press conference on Friday it was announced that Duke-NUS will co-develop and manufacture the kit called cPass. It will be in collaboration with biotech company GenScript Biotech Corp, agency for science, technology and research called A*Star, and Diagnostics Development Hub called DxD Hub.
In order to produce the kits in large numbers, they are also planning to partner with local biotech companies. The usual tests for such antibodies require live virus, cells, and skilled operators. Specific laboratory procedures have to be carried out for obtaining results in several days.
Professor Wang Linfa, director of Duke-NUS, said biosafety containment facility is not required for test kits developed by his team which makes it instantly accessible. "The cPass can be used for contact tracing, reservoir or intermediate animal tracking, assessment of herd immunity, longevity of protective immunity and efficacy of different vaccine candidates," he added.
The kit has been validated by DxD hub with clinical trial on patients who enrolled for a study by the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, The Straits Times reported. To secure provisional authorization by the Health Sciences Authority, manufacturing protocols and quality control have been configured. DxD hub will be organizing a pilot batch for use of the kit in hospitals soon.
GenScript Will Help in Commercializing Product
GenScript Biotech Corp took care of proof-of-concept research, product design, and development and optimization. The biotech company will also play an important part in commercializing cPass globally using its international network and manufacturing capacity.
Chief strategy officer Dr Zhu Li said the test results would help the government in framing its strategies. "It is extremely useful for quick and reliable surveillance to determine how widely a population has gained immunity to the Sars-CoV-2 virus," he added.