Singapore Scientists Develop New COVID-19 Test Kit

February 2020

Singapore’s leading public sector research organization, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and Tan Tock Seng Hospital have developed a diagnostic test kit for the Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), has received provisional authorization for usage from the Health Sciences Authority.

The kits uses the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method to detect the virus, instead of other methods such as detecting antibodies produced in response to an infection. Around 10,000 of the kits have been sent to China, while another 5,000 have been delivered to local hospitals.

This initial batch was manufactured by the Diagnostics Development (DxD) Hub, a national initiative led by A*Star’s commercialization arm, A*ccelerate, with the aim to accelerate the transformation of IPs into clinically validated diagnostic devices that are ready for market adoption. Now the mass production is being handed over to a local SME, MiRXES, a spinoff from A*Star and the National University of Singapore, which specializes in development and production of diagnostic tests for early detection of cancers. A*ccelerate has licensed the rights to manufacture and commercialize the test kit to MiRXES, which will start manufacturing 100,000 tests a week. This can increased to 250,000 a week if required.

According to the Business Times, MiRXES will work to make the test kits more accurate and user-friendly as possible, to facilitate its use in labs in other countries, which might not have the same equipment as Singapore hospitals or may have lower numbers of trained staff.

Meanwhile, the DxD Hub will focus on developing new tools required as the outbreak progresses, which could be used to monitor recovering patients and to surveil infected populations.

(Source: Business Times)

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