Funding appeal launched for potential Covid-19 test

The test could allow health professionals to measure patients’ response to Covid-19 in just five minutes.

A funding appeal has been launched to help fast-track the development of a “pocket laboratory” that carries out quick, accurate and cost-effective blood tests that could revolutionise how health professionals track, trace and monitor the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19.

The handheld device, called Attomarker, connects to a smartphone, and uses innovative new technology to analyse a finger-prick of blood within minutes.

The test could allow health professionals to measure patients’ response to Covid-19 – including if they are infected and raising an immune response, and whether that response will be protective. All in just five minutes, compared to several hours using existing diagnostic technology.

The research team, led by Professor Andrew Shaw, has now launched an urgent funding appeal in order to carry out the 12-week testing to collect the data to validate the test.

Professor Andrew Shaw said: “We are going to profile the patient’s response to the virus to see how early we can detect it and what a protective response looks like in recovery. Protection could last more than 100 days but we need to check this”.

Prof Shaw’s Research Group, in collaboration with Professor Chris Hyde at Exeter Medical School, and Attomarker scientists are due to perform diagnostic accuracy tests at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, starting Monday 23 March.

They are being hosted by Professor Jonathan Edgeworth at St Thomas’s Centre for Clinical Infection and Diagnostics, one of the technology assessment centres contributing to the government’s response to the pandemic.

Prof Shaw said: “If successful, the test should become a valuable tool in widespread population surveillance. One hundred test instruments could test the entire population of a city the size of Exeter in less than a week. We need to refine the test and critically, understand its accuracy, and ready it for CE marking and FDA approval”.

Prof Shaw’s Research Group are looking to raise £105,000 for the cost of the 12-week tests, which includes carrying out 1,800 tests and the manufacture of five new instruments.

To donate please visit https://www.exeter.ac.uk/exceptional/emergencyappeal/

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