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New Test Delivers Results in Minutes, Loss of Smell Common in Mild Cases, Entire UK Population To Be Home-Tested: COVID-19 Updates

January 8, 2021 I New technology has the potential for at-home immunity monitoring, novel COVID-19 test delivers results in under five minutes, Spectrum Solutions to provide saliva collection device for UK population weekly testing, geographic monitoring of COVID-19 cases for early detection of clusters, and NIH funds pediatric COVID-19 research on MIS-C. Plus: Phillips, BioIntelliSense, University of Colorado receive award to validate BioSticker wearable sensor to detect early COVID-19 symptoms.


Research News

In a new paper published in Scientific Reports, researchers describe their development of a near real-time geographic monitoring of COVID-19 cases to help guide local medical responses to COVID-19 clusters. Geographic Monitoring for Early Disease Detection, or GeoMEDD, uses incoming test data to provide multiple perspectives on the ever-evolving disease landscape by connecting cases and providing insights to target community testing opportunities, interventions, and education in areas with community spread. The researchers explain that GeoMEDD would not replace traditional forms of disease cluster detection, but rather enhance traditional mapping to find locations of group outbreaks. They explain that the application could extend beyond the pandemic and be applied to future epidemics, seasonal flu outbreaks, outbreaks of overdoses, and to surveillance for bioterror or radiological symptoms. DOI:10.1038/s41598-020-78704-5

Patient-reported loss of smell was prevalent in nearly 86% of mild COVID-19 cases in a new study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine. In the study of over 2,500 patients with varying degrees of severity of COVID-19 from 18 European hospitals, 85.9% of patients reported olfactory dysfunction with mild cases of infection. In moderate cases of COVID-19, 4.5% reported a reduced sense of smell and 6.9% in severe cases. The average duration of olfactory dysfunction reported by the patients was 21.6 days and nearly 25% of those affected patients reported that they did not recover their sense of smell at 60 days. They did find, however, that 95% of those patients recovered their sense of smell by six months after onset of the COVID-19 symptom. DOI:10.1111/joim.13209

Industry News

Clear Labs, provider of the only fully-automated next-generation sequencing platform for turnkey diagnostics, is announcing a broader partnership with Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT), which develops and manufactures nucleic acid products that support the life sciences industry. Clear Labs’ EUA approved, turnkey sequencing platform for diagnostic screening and genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 utilizes IDT primers as part of its solution. Based on the success of an existing collaboration between Clear Labs and IDT that focuses on providing food producers with information rich and high-accuracy food safety testing using IDT's oligo products, the new engagement addresses the clinical market during a time when increased clarity into pathogens is more important than ever before. Press release.

Spectrum Solutions has partnered with Steribottle to provide its innovative SDNA-1000 Saliva Collection Device for the COVID-19 population testing directive in the United Kingdom. Rollout of this extensive countrywide testing mandate includes every UK citizen once a week. The Spectrum Solutions SDNA-1000 Saliva Collection Device was the first saliva-based solution to receive the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for COVID-19 testing and the system provides over 10 days of post-collection stability with no degradation in sample efficacy. Press Release

A new COVID-19 test that provides accurate results in less than five minutes has been created by University of Birmingham researchers. The novel single-step approach converts viral RNA into DNA and combines it with a known technique called the Exponential Amplification Reaction (EXPAR), which increases DNA concentration to detectable levels at a constant temperature. They have named this new method Reverse Transcriptase Free EXPAR (RTF-EXPAR) testing. This new method is described in a preprint paper published by MedRxiv, and the University of Birmingham Enterprise has filed a patent application covering the method and its use in diagnostic equipment. Preprint Paper

A researcher from the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) has developed a new technology for COVID-19 immunity monitoring, with the potential for at-home use. The technology was developed by breaking down the virus into small pieces to identify locations where antibodies attach, and the researcher’s team reports that this test detects 20% more positive cases than the current gold-standard antibody test with the ability to detect even small amounts of antibodies. The UAB Research Foundation has filed for a patent on this new technology, and the developer hopes to transition it into an inexpensive and simple at-home test for the general public to monitor immunity after vaccination. Press Release

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will fund pediatric COVID-19 studies to develop approaches for identifying children at a high risk for Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). The awards, part of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics-Radical (RADx-rad) program, will fund studies enrolling children with diverse geographic, racial and ethnic backgrounds across the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and South America. These studies will explore how several factors influence the severity of COVID-19 in children and their risk of progression to MIS-C. Artificial intelligence and machine learning will be utilized to interpret the acquired data. Press Release

Royal Phillips and BioIntelliSense announced that they have been selected to receive nearly $2.8 million from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) through a Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium (MTEC) award to validate BioIntelliSense’s FDA-cleared BioSticker device for early detection of COVID-19 symptoms. The award aims to accelerate the use of wearable diagnostics for the military and public health through early detection and containment of pre-symptomatic cases of COVID-19. In collaboration with the University of Colorado, the clinical study will consist of 2,500 participants with a recent, known exposure to the virus or experiencing early symptoms, and the research will focus on validation of the BioSticker technology to accurately detect early COVID-19 symptoms. Press Release


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