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Novel coronavirus

New test under development: Can measure if you have coronavirus in less than ten minutes

Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark and the Danish company Bioporto are collaborating on the development of a test that can quickly identify if a person has been infected with the coronavirus. The test could be critical in relation to preventing infection from person to person.

By Stine Charlotte Saltofte Hansen, , 4/7/2020

Doctors and nurses will soon be able to effectively test if they have coronavirus before going to work. Travelers will be able to find out if they are infected before boarding the plane. And you will be able to test yourself before visiting family and friends. 

A new, fast and reliable test for coronavirus is on the way. Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark, Odense University Hospital and the Danish company Bioporto are collaborating on preparing a test that is easy to use. 

“We can see that many people are infected by the coronavirus through others carrying the virus without showing symptoms. A quick and effective test is, therefore, a very important tool in the fight against the virus,” says Jan Kuhlmann, COO of Bioporto.

Antibodies are the solution

Researchers at the Department of Molecular Medicine are currently housing a particularly important little mouse. This is namely the mouse, which is forming antibodies against the coronavirus at this very moment. The SDU researchers will provide the antibodies to be used in the test and they have initiated the work. 

A single cell from the mouse can be of crucial importance for the world's population with regard to being tested for the disease and avoiding infection. 

“Our laboratory houses some of the best researchers in the field, and the company has many years of experience in this exact area. Together, we have the tools needed to develop the test”, explains Jonas Heilskov Graversen, Associate Professor at the Department of Molecular Medicine at SDU.

“We have developed methods to tackle the virus. We have combined this with our great expertise in the development of antibodies, which has been built up over many years. This allows us to develop antibodies that bind the surface of virus particles very rapidly.  It's not rocket science, but we can do it because we've worked together for a long time,” says Associate Professor Jonas Heilskov Graversen.

Together with Associate Professor Yaseelan Palarasah, he is working closely with Bioporto to get the test ready as soon as possible.

The company has patented a small testing instrument that can be used with the antibodies to reliably and quickly test people for coronavirus.

Effective testing provides reassurance

The test is reminiscent of a pregnancy test where small lines indicate if the person being tested is sick. If no lines appear, the person who has been tested is healthy. The antibodies shall be present in the test so that they react and produce a colour if they encounter viruses.

“At the moment, we can only test potential sufferers by taking a sample from the back of the throat. The sample must then be examined in a laboratory. Some tests are a little faster, but they do not catch the disease in its early stages. We aim to develop a test, which is reliable and effective and provides reassurance,” says Jan Kuhlmann, COO of Bioporto.

The company has many years of experience in working with antibodies, which has led to methods for testing and diagnostic predictors.

A second wave of the disease will arrive in the autumn

If everything goes as planned, the researchers and the company can have the first test ready within six months.

“This seems like a long time now, but a second wave of coronavirus is expected to arrive, and we would like to be prepared for when it does,” says Associate Professor Jonas Heilskov Graversen.

SDU RIO's business development advisers and lawyers have helped to establish the agreement between the researchers and the company. 

It is important for all of us

Manager of SDU RIO Søren E. Frandsen emphasises why the collaboration between Bioporto and the researchers from the Department of Molecular Medicine is so important:

“We will need a diagnostic method that can be used outside the laboratories when Denmark and many other countries re-open soon - e.g. in individual homes, at workplaces and where there is otherwise a need for a quick and reliable answer to whether a person is infected,” he says.

“This will be essential for us to maintain control of the spread of the virus. It is important for all of us.”

Editing was completed: 07.04.2020