February 26, 2024

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New COVID-19 Tech to Deliver Faster, More Accurate Test Results

Image Credits: Murdoch University, Press Release

The latest research from Murdoch University and the Perron Institute is paving the way for the development of a new technological screening platform that will rapidly and accurately detect COVID-19, without compromising quality.

A medical device company’s Sentinel saliva sampling approach involves sensitive molecular processes and ultra-high throughput technology for screening potentially infectious, asymptomatic carriers. It can run up to four thousand samples per hour, with results reported within 25 minutes. The latest data published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports shows 98 per cent accuracy in identifying the SARS-CoV-2 virus in samples.

Senior author, Professor Sulev Koks, Head of Genetic Epidemiology Research at Murdoch University and Western Australia’s Perron Institute is among the scientists and others contributing. He is collaborating with local specialists from various institutes, including the University of Western Australia and further afield in the United Kingdom and Spain. The key overseas organisations evaluating the technology are the Lancs LAMP Laboratory in Preston, UK and Biodonostia Health Research Institute in San Sebastian, Spain.

Professor Koks noted that while present testing methods are accurate, they are not capable of providing a result to people with COVID-19 that have no symptoms. Additionally, PCR testing puts a strain on the health system as health staff need to undertake rigorous training to obtain results.

It was also noted that while the diagnostic gold standard RT-PCR test accurately detects viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, it lacks sufficient speed for efficient, large-scale routine surveillance screening and quarantine applications. The rapid antigen tests (RAT) are easier to use but not sufficiently sensitive in detecting the virus in infected people who are contagious but have no symptoms. The viral load samples from pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic people can take several days to reach sufficient levels for detecting infection.

“PCR results take hours and throughput is, at most, a few thousand samples processed per instrument per day. Also, nasopharyngeal PCR sampling requires trained personnel and has decreased participant acceptance if multiple tests are required within a short period.”

Effective viral surveillance to contain outbreaks requires frequent testing with more sensitive assays, particularly as new variants arise. The new screening technology, that will identify infectious patients sooner and eliminate the threat of unwanted community transmission, will help hasten the pandemic’s closure.

The proposed large-scale and convenient saliva testing platform combines accuracy and scalability to mitigate the risk of viral transmission as restrictions are lifted and to guard against future threats. It would make frequent testing feasible in complementing vaccines to contain the spread of highly infectious pandemic agents such as COVID-19. Further validation of the medical device company’s rapid, ultra-sensitive Sentinel screening system is continuing.

The first authors of the recent publication are Robert Dewhurst and Tatjana Heinrich (Perron Institute and Avicena Systems), and the other authors are Paul Watt and Paul Ostergaard (Avicena Systems), Jose Maria Marimon (Biodonostia Institute), Mariana Moreira and Philip Houldsworth (Lancs LAMP Laboratory), Jack Rudrum (Perron Institute) and David Wood (UWA).

The medical device company’s pilot Sentinel system was supported by grants from the WA Department of Health, Department of Premier and Cabinet, Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Industry, and a Modern Manufacturing Initiative grant from the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

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Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

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SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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