’Game-changing’ COVID test shows results in just minutes
A Queensland company developing an ultra-rapid COVID-19 test that would be as easy to use as a pregnancy dipstick has received $1.5 million from the State Government to fast-track the technology.
Key to the "potentially game-changing" test, under development by Xing Technologies, is a bio-engineered yeast molecule, coated with velcro-like particles that the virus sticks to.
The company, which has also received US$1 million from the US Government, hopes to modify the technology to apply it as a spray or coating on face masks, surgical gowns, airline seats and airconditioning filters to reduce the risk of the virus transmitting.
Scientist Yadveer Grewal, who designed the test, said it would only produce a positive result if the "virus was alive and infectious", indicating the person being tested needed to isolate themselves or remain in quarantine.
The test is undergoing trials in the United States.
Key to its potential will be how accurate it is, particularly in terms of false negatives.
Dr Grewal said if it received the approval of regulatory authorities, test results for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, could be available in a few minutes, each costing about the price of a cup of coffee.
Xing Technologies CEO Tom Esplin said the big hope was the test could be used to pick up infectious people before they hopped on planes, at schools, hospitals and aged care facilities.
"People are saying we need a rapid point-of-care test to let people get on aeroplanes," Mr Esplin said. "We'd like to be able to offer it. The highest viral loads occur in the three days before you develop symptoms. This test is perfectly suited for those who've got the highest risk of spreading it."
People performing the test would take a simple nasal swab, mix it with a solution and apply a few drops to a dipstick, which would indicate a negative or positive result, similar to a pregnancy test.
Queensland Innovation Minister Kate Jones, who has provided funding through the Palaszczuk Government's Industry Tech Fund, said the test had the potential to significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19.
"It could be a real game changer in the fight against this pandemic," Ms Jones said.
Xing Technologies hopes to develop its technology, dubbed XavTrap, to produce a range of tests from COVID-19 to others for dengue and even cancer.
Dr Grewal first invented the technology as part of his PhD at the University of Queensland, bio-engineering yeast to test for amoebiasis, a disease caused by an infection with the parasite, Entamoeba histolytica.
Xing technologies hopes to turn XavTrap into a biotechnology industry in Queensland, with the potential to create up to 300 jobs.
Originally published as 'Game-changing' COVID test shows results in just minutes