A new method of testing for the coronavirus that produces results in under a minute and has a success rate of 90% has been developed by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Prof. Gabby Sarusi.
In clinical trials done in conjunction with the Defense Ministry on more than 120 Israelis, results showed a success rate greater than 90% in comparison to the more common Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) used in coronavirus testing.
"Right from the beginning of the trials, we received statistically significant results in line with our simulations and PCR tests," explained Sarusi, deputy head for research at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a faculty member of the Electro-Optical Engineering Unit at BGU.
Now that the test has been developed, Sarusi is validating the tests. Ongoing trials aim to determine if the test can identify the specific stage someone with the coronavirus may be afflicted with.
"We are continuing clinical trials and will compare samples from COVID-19 patients with samples from patients with other diseases to see if we can identify the different stages of the COVID-19 infection," said Sarusi.
The testing method consists of doctors taking a biological sample, such as particles from a breath test or from throat and nose swabs, such as ones already used for current tests. The samples are then placed on a chip with sensors designed specifically for this purpose.
The system then analyzes the biological sample and provides an accurate positive/negative result within a minute via a cloud-connected system. The point-of-care device automatically backs up the results into a database that can be shared by authorities, making it easier than ever to track the course of the virus, as well as to triage and treat patients.
While other rapid testing methods have been developed and are in use, producing them is costly, limiting their availability. This test is cheaper, making it more easily available. Each test kit would cost between $50 to $100 to produce, far more affordable than current laboratory testing.
Current coronavirus test kits are based on amplifying and identifying the viral RNA sequences, and therefore depend on costly reagents and biochemical reactions.
Additionally, PCR-based kits take hours, and in many cases days, to yield results, and require logistically complicated shipping and handling of sensitive and infectious biological samples.Sarusi developed his chip within the framework of BGU’s Coronavirus Task Force, which was brought together by BGU president Prof. Daniel Chamovitz in order to utilize the university's resources to tackle the effects of the coronavirus.