New COVID-19 test kit developed by Singapore can detect virus infection in just an hour

May 18, 2020

Singapore-based Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS) has developed a new COVID-19 test kit, cPass that takes just an hour to detect if someone has been infected before, instead of the usual several days. Besides checking what proportion of the population has already been infected and maintaining contact tracing, a critical measure employed by Singapore, the new test can also be used to see if potential vaccines for COVID-19 are effective.

“The cPass developed by our team can be used for contact tracing, reservoir or intermediate animal tracking, assessment of herd immunity, longevity of protective immunity and efficacy of different vaccine candidates,” said Professor Wang Linfa, Director of Duke-NUS’ emerging infectious diseases programme. “It does not require a biosafety containment facility, which makes it immediately accessible to the global community, including many developing nations.”

The cPass test kit is the first of its kind to single out specific antibodies that neutralise the coronavirus and prevent it from infecting a patient’s cells: when someone is infected with the virus, the body produces thousands of different antibodies, known as binding antibodies, which bind with the virus.However, not all of them can neutralise the virus. This is the role of neutralising antibodies.

While other COVID-19 tests for such antibodies require the use of live viruses, highly skilled operators and complex laboratory procedures that are generally less sensitive and require several days to obtain results, the cPass kit can single out neutralising antibodies quickly, and can be used in regular research or hospital settings rather than needing specialised expertise or equipment.

Duke-NUS recently announced that it will be co-developing and manufacturing the cPass test kit with biotech company GenScript Biotech Corporation and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s Diagnostics Development Hub. There are also plans to partner local biotech companies to increase the production of the test kits.

The cPass test kit is available to local hospitals and can also be carried out in most research or clinical labs, assured Duke-NUS.


Category: Features, Top Story

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