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07 Aug 2020

‘Near-care’ test that can detect COVID-19 in 20 minutes validated

A test that can detect the COVID-19 virus from nasal swabs in just 20 minutes has been validated by Doherty Institute scientists in collaboration with Australian biotech company GeneWorks.

Published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology, the team led by University of Melbourne Professor Tim Stinear Laboratory Head at the Doherty Institute, describe the development and validation of the rapid molecular test called the N1-STOP-LAMP test, or STOP-LAMP.

In high viral load samples, STOP-LAMP was shown to have 100% accuracy in diagnosing COVID-19.

“STOP-LAMP is what’s referred to as a ‘near care’ test, it is not intended to replace the current gold standard PCR testing. It’s a robust diagnostic test for the specific and rapid detection of COVID-19. But it’s important to note however, it trades some detection sensitivity for speed and ease-of-use,” Professor Stinear said.

“In the race to control the COVID-19 pandemic access to rapid, precision diagnostics is key. We have developed an alternative COVID-19 molecular test that can be readily deployed in settings where access to standard laboratory testing is limited or where ultra-rapid result turnaround times are needed.”

The team is now working towards trialling mobile COVID-19 testing capability in Melbourne.

“We see this kind of technology having benefit in settings liked aged care facilities, or overseas laboratories with limited resources and equipment,” Professor Stinear said.

“The test requires a small shoebox size machine, as well as reagents, but everything is portable.”