Imperial College’s Regius Professor of Engineering, Chris Toumazou FRS, is working with clinical researchers to test a rapid, lab-free test that detects COVID-19 and delivers results in just over an hour. The ‘lab-in-cartridge’ rapid tests – based on Professor Toumazou’s DnaNudge consumer DNA testing innovation – have been clinically validated after a successful initial trial on COVID-19 patients and are continuing to validate on larger patient groups. This work was supported by the NIHR Imperial BRC.
The Department of Health and Social Care has procured 10,000 DnaNudge COVID-19 RNA testing cartridges to roll out to clinical sites. The Department of Health’s COVID-19 Testing Strategy cited the work as among “…encouraging innovators that are producing promising new types of tests”.
Experts at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust are working with Imperial and the DnaNudge team to enable the new test to be available for patients and staff if it continues to prove successful.
Professor Toumazou, CEO and co-founder of DnaNudge and founder of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Imperial, said: “Early validation results for our technology in the COVID-19 patient study have been excellent. The DnaNudge test was developed as a lab-free, on-the-spot consumer service that can be delivered at scale, so we clearly believe it offers very significant potential in terms of mass population testing during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Professor Graham Cooke, NIHR Research Professor of Infectious Diseases and Deputy Theme Lead for the Infection & AMR Theme of the Imperial BRC said: “This is one of the most exciting technologies I’ve seen in this area, particularly because it avoids the need for any sample handling. Our early results are very encouraging and now we need to see how the test performs in different clinical settings and understand where it might have the biggest impact on care at this critical time.”
The DnaNudge in-store DNA testing service, which this coronavirus test is based on, was launched to consumers in November 2019. The service currently focuses on nutrition, analysing and mapping users’ genetic profile to key nutrition-related health traits. The test has been converted to detect the RNA of COVID-19.
DnaNudge is an Imperial spin-out with labs at the College’s White City Campus. Read the full story by Andrew Scheuber & Caroline Brogan, Imperial College London here.