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Canadian Biotech Company Develops Rapid Test for Coronavirus

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Credit: Dr. Fred Murphy & Sylvia Whitfield/CDC
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A Canadian life sciences company is developing a rapid screening test for the Coronavirus outbreak.

Sona Nanotech Inc., is using its proprietary nanotechnology in the development of a rapid screening test for the novel Coronavirus (“nCoV19”).

The virus was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China at the end of December. There have since been more than 40,000 cases globally and over 900 deaths.

Sona’s test is based on lateral flow technology. When completed, the test is expected to produce results in 5-15 minutes and is anticipated to cost less than $50. There is currently no lateral flow test specific to the nCoV19 strain of the Coronavirus.

Sona will integrate its proprietary nanorod technology into a disposable lateral flow test platform (similar to pregnancy tests that can be administered without skilled technicians or additional laboratory equipment) for use as a screening tool to help triage individuals.

Currently, the majority of testing completed for the nCoV19 virus uses molecular based technology (PCR), a testing platform that; typically costs more than $200 per test, frequently takes 2-4 hours to produce results, and requires specialized laboratory equipment and skilled technicians to operate.

In comparison, lateral flow assays provide results between 5-15 minutes and can be administered by a layperson.

Sona Nanotech CEO Darren Rowles said: “Screening tests are critical tools in dealing with rapidly evolving and large-scale out-breaks that tax the health care system, like this novel Coronavirus. Screening tests rapidly identify at-risk patients, which allows the medical community to focus its resources on the patients that need help the most.”     

Sona is in continuing discussions with several companies and organizations relating to the development of the nCov19 Coronavirus and expects to provide additional updates on Sona’s test development in the coming days.