U of G research behind rapid coronavirus test kits
Samples are screened in a palm-sized box called bCUBE, which can analyze up to 16 samples at once. (Photo/University of Guelph)
KITCHENER -- Research out of the University of Guelph is being used in kits that can provide coronavirus test results in an hour.
“I call it an Easy Bake Oven,” says Professor Steve Newmaster, a plant biologist and member of U of G’s Biodiversity Institute of Ontario in a news release.
The portable kit, made by Hyris Global Diagnostics in Italy and based on U of G research, is able to detect genetic material from the novel virus based on samples taken from patients or swiped from surfaces.
The samples are then screened in a palm-sized box called bCUBE, which can analyze up to 16 samples at once.
“There’s one door. You shove in a cartridge, there are no bells or whistles, everything is inside,” explains Newmaster.
The kits have already been used to confirm coronavirus infections in Italy when the country went into lockdown in March.
It’s also been used to detect the virus on surfaces and products from inside of hospitals and grocery stores in the United States.
“This is a way to use our skills to help at a time when society needs help,” says Newmaster.
According to Newmaster, the kits also facilitate communication between researchers located around the world.
“It’s portable and connected to the cloud so it puts results in health-care workers’ hands immediately,” he said.
Newmaster and his team plan to focus their efforts on conducting tests for the virus in North America in public places and on products like imported goods.