Hamilton

McMaster University racing to create home-based COVID-19 test

A release from the school says the self-diagnosis kit would generate a test result in just 20 minutes, similar to a pregnancy test, which would spare people from having to visit a doctor's office, hospital or lab to find out if they are infected.

The test would act similar to a pregnancy test and would reveal results in 20 minutes

McMaster University researchers are racing to create a home-based COVID-19 testing kit, which could potentially be ready to move forward for approvals and manufacturing in several months. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

McMaster University researchers are hoping to get a home-based COVID-19 testing kit approved and manufactured in the next several months.

A release from the school says the self-diagnosis kit would generate a test result in just 20 minutes, which would spare people from having to visit a doctor's office, hospital or lab to find out if they are infected. It would also allow people who may not be eligible for testing, like those without symptoms or those with uncommon symptoms, to find out if they are infected.

This comes as the province plans to start a new testing strategy that will see 8,000 tests a day by April 15 and 14,000 by April 29.

How will this test work?

Researchers said people would swab their mucous and put it in a small vial of liquid. The test amplifies the RNA (genetic material) in the sample at room temperature. Then, the test would generate a line, like a pregnancy test, to signal whether the novel coronavirus is in the mucous. 

The release says the technology is based on past research from McMaster's Biointerfaces Institute which looked at developing tests for E. coli and H. pylori, a bacterium that causes peptic ulcers and other digestive problems.

How long will it take to create the test?

John Brennan, the institute's director, said the test kit could be approved and manufactured in the next several months.

While the team is using seed funding from the school to start working on the test, it is also working on answering basic questions around the science, funding, manufacturing and regulations around the technology.

They hope to find public and private partners to move the research and commercialization forward.

"We're looking down the road at the next wave of testing, which we expect is going to be home-based self-testing," Brennan said in the release.

"We want to get a self-administered test out the door as quickly as we can. It could be really important for identifying new clusters and stopping community spread by asymptomatic carriers."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bobby Hristova is a reporter for CBC News in Hamilton. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.

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