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Biozentech develops new method to detect COVID-19
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2020.03.06 15:38
  • Updated 2020.03.07 15:30
  • comments 0

Biozentech, a subsidiary of Korea University Guro Hospital (KUGH), said it has developed a new technology that can shorten the COVID-19 detection time from six hours to one hour.

Biozentech’s isothermal gene amplification diagnostic kit for COVID-19

According to the company, its researchers and Professor Lim Chae-seung at KUGH have developed an isothermal gene amplification method that simultaneously detects the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) and E genes of COVID-19 using the multiplex lamp diagnostic method.

The team used isothermal amplification to verify the presence of the virus in 10 minutes by comparing samples from patients with COVID-19 infection with those containing no viruses. The company said it could also reduce the nucleic acid extraction time sharply to less than 30 minutes.

“If all the technology becomes applicable, we will be able to complete the sampling to the confirmation process within an hour,” the company said. “Currently, real-time gene amplification is used to detect the COVID-19 virus, which takes about six hours.”

Conventional tests also require expensive equipment worth about 40 million won ($33,580), the company said. However, diagnosis can be confirmed only in the central laboratory of a large hospital, which required extra time and risks related to transporting specimens, it noted.

The test method is also not suitable for developing countries because only skilled professionals can use it, it added.

However, the new test method enables accurate virus detection five or six times faster than real-time gene amplification technology and individual testing for each sample, thus eliminating the need to operate the machine simultaneously.

“The device can be used if there is an isothermal device that can maintain 62 degrees and does not require large, expensive equipment. Besides, the method is simple enough to detect viruses even if the user is not an expert,” the company said. “Therefore, it is expected to have advantages in terms of economics and convenience.”

Professor Lim said, “To date, few reagents have been developed worldwide to detect COVID-19 by multiple fluorescent isothermal molecular diagnostics. It is highly likely that the device will be used in developing countries, too, where resources are scarce.”

corea022@docdocdoc.co.kr

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