McMaster scientists in Hamilton develop COVID-19 rapid test

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Published June 24, 2021 at 1:15 am

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The stress of waiting up to 48 hours for the result of a COVID-19 test could soon be no more, thanks to a trio of scientists of McMaster University in Hamilton.

McMaster announced Wednesday that a COVID-19 rapid home test developed by a team of its scientists will be rolling out worldwide, subject to Health Canada approval. The so-called ‘spit test’ can deliver results in 10 minutes. 

Current tests, in case any residents of Mississauga or Brampton need a reminder, involve a healthcare professional taking a swabs from a person’s nostrils or throat.The new procedure only needs a small saliva sample.

“If we can get this test into the market, it can save millions of lives around the world,” said Dr. Yingfu Li, who is professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences at McMaster. “There are a lot of asymptomatic carriers who can now be tested and isolated.”

McMaster has signed with ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. to be the commercial partner for launching the new rapid test once it receives federal approval. 

Li’s fellow researchers are Dr. John Brennan, a chemistry and chemical biology professor, and Dr. Leyla Soleymani, an associate professor of engineering physics.

Brennan holds the Canada Research Chair in Bioanalytical Chemistry. Soleymani holds the Canada Research Chair in Miniaturized Biomedical Devices.

The test uses a molecular probe that can recognize the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. It can also be updated to detect new variants of COVID-19.

“This is exactly what we need at this point as we go back to normalcy,” Soleymani said.

The project was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and McMaster.

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