COVID-19 Test Would Ditch Nasal Swab, Seeks Corporate Sponsor

Area researchers have completed research that could lead to a COVID-19 test that is faster and offers more collection options than the traditional nasal swab.
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Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak
Researchers at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak have developed the technology necessary for a COVID-19 test that skips a nasal swab for a urine, blood, or saliva sample. // File photo

Area researchers have completed research that could lead to a COVID-19 test that is faster and offers more collection options than the traditional nasal swab.

A project led by scientists at the Aikens Research Center at the Beaumont Research Institute of Southfield’s Beaumont Health has turned out a new test to detect COVID-19 in urine, blood, or saliva. The institute is at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak.

Results were compared to existing technology and found to be highly accurate. The test also is relatively inexpensive to develop and operate.

“We need more testing options if we’re going to stage a successful public health response to COVID-19,” says Laura Lamb, one of the leaders of the project. “This is a rapid test that does not require expensive machinery to run, and the materials for it are relatively inexpensive. The more options we have for testing, the better.”

Securing corporate sponsorship to fund development is the next phase of the project, according to Dr. Michael Chancellor, another researcher leading the project.

Lamb says the test could be used at the point of risk such as in nursing homes, long-term care facilities, ships, schools, prisons, and manufacturing plants.

“We are optimistic with the right resources, it could be ready for widespread use within a month or so,” she says.

According to Beaumont, results from the most accurate tests take 24 hours or more to process and can be expensive for hospitals and clinics.

Lamb and Chancellor developed technology for a rapid Zika virus detection test about three years ago. They were able to adapt the technology for COVID-19.

The test builds on recommendations from Dr. Anthony Fauci, an immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, says Lamb. Fauci says rapid testing and tracing are keys to containing the virus.

The study appeared in the peer-reviewed medical journal PLOS ONE and is available here.

More than 10,000 scientists globally have downloaded the article, and Lamb and Chancellor are sharing their work and collaborating with researchers from around the world via video conference.

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