Arcis Biotechnology and Perfectus Biomed say they can help the NHS to significantly speed up testing for coronavirus. Tony McDonough reports
Two firms at Liverpool city region science campus Sci-Tech Daresbury have come together to develop a new kit that could significantly speed up testing for coronavirus.
The UK Government has come under pressure over how few tests it is carrying out on a daily basis for the disease. Now Arcis Biotechnology, a research and development led company is joining forces with Perfectus Biomed to develop a new lab kit.
In response to the shortage of chemicals available for diagnostic testing, Arcis Biotechnology has developed its coronavirus RNA extraction research kit.
This enables users to go from biological sample to downstream testing in under three minutes in most situations, and provides all of the necessary reagents to rapidly prepare respiratory tract specimens of molecular testing.
So within five minutes of a swab being taken from a patient the sample is ready for diagnostic testing. The simplicity of the process allows it to be used without expensive and prohibitive laboratory equipment. Crucially, this means the test has the potential to be automated, meaning robotics could be used to expedite quicker and more efficient testing.
The methodology and swiftness of such testing would rapidly increase the speed at which tests can be conducted, enabling the most at-risk patients to receive treatment faster while increasing the safety of healthcare workers.
The kit serves as a starting point for collaboration with healthcare organisations and Arcis is currently in discussion with a number of NHS trusts. In order to ensure its regulatory approval, Perfectus Biomed is undertaking antiviral testing on the kit and screening on a molecular basis to ensure it has an efficacy claim against coronavirus.
Perfectus has also adapted its service in order to cater to the growing demand for testing of disinfectants and hand gels and has cut the cost of its testing service in order to make it easier for more products to safely get to market.
Dr Jan Rogers, chief scientific officer, Arcis Biotechnology said: “Our current focus is on developing collaborations with the groups and organisations working on COVID-19 diagnostics. The time it takes to develop a result is critical to enable doctors to know which patients require immediate treatment.
“We are eager to contribute to resolving this global crisis and are prepared to offer samples, technical support, and collaboration efforts that will lead to faster diagnosis and improved healthcare worker safety.”
And Dr Samantha Westgate, chief executive of Perfectus Biomed, added: “Our mission as a business to improve quality of life through exceptional microbiology. During these unprecedented times, we see that as more important than ever.”