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A rapid test for the new coronavirus under development in Finland

VTT covid-19 test

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has initiated development of a rapid test for the new coronavirus together with MeVac, the joint vaccine research centre of the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) and the University of Helsinki.

The new testing method is based on detecting the viral antigens of the COVID-19 virus. Once completed, the test will provide healthcare professionals with an accurate, fast, and resource-efficient method to detect coronavirus infections early, states the researchers.

“As the situation with the epidemic began to worsen internationally, we started looking for solutions within our area of excellence,” says Leena Hakalahti, the head of a research team on biosensors at VTT. “We have expertise in antibody development and production, as well as previous experience in designing diagnostic tests. It was an easy decision for us to start working on the COVID-19 antibody.”

Results in 15 minutes or less

The method is designed to be initially carried out by healthcare personnel to diagnose COVID-19 at an early stage of the disease. It will yield results in 15 minutes or less, which is significantly faster than existing tests, and will be considerably more cost-efficient than current methods.

The first versions of the test are expected this autumn.

“As the research progresses, we will explore the possibility of using the developed antibodies not only for testing, but also for the treatment of the coronavirus disease,” says Olli Vapalahti, professor of virology at the University of Helsinki.

Ensuring the availability of tests even as the epidemic continues

VTT started the research to develop new antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 virus antigens with internal funding, but the project now acutely seeks additional funding and partners for the development of the rapid test. The manufacturing of the tests and their analysis equipment could be done in Finland by VTT and Finnish companies, and in addition to responding to domestic needs, they could be sold internationally.

”Increasing the testing capacity plays a key role in monitoring the progress of the epidemic, but current testing methods require a lot of time and resources which limits the capacity. The purpose of the rapid test is to enable growing the testing capacity and ensuring the availability of tests even as the epidemic continues,” says research area vice president Dr. Jussi Paakkari from VTT.

Source: goodnewsfinland.com and VTT