UC grad’s company offers new COVID-19 test

A University of Cincinnati graduate helped develop a quick DNA test for COVID-19, or coronavirus.

“The portable device can test bodily fluids to quickly identify COVID-19 using a DNA amplifier. COVID-19 can be confirmed within an hour, which is faster than traditional tests that can take three hours using bulky instruments in the lab,” Han said.

Each test cartridge can test up to six samples, so each device can test as many as 140 samples per day.

“Our technology is based on microfluidic lab-on-a-chip technology. That is key, I think.” Han said.

Afternoon sunlight washes over the Engineering Research Center.

The University of Cincinnati’s Engineering Research Center. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

In microfluidic lab-on-a-chip, small DNA samples from a patient are amplified to create enough DNA to generate a detailed study. The new device allows for a shorter test time, Han said.

Han earned a doctoral degree in electrical engineering from UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science in 2005 after completing an undergraduate degree at Korea University. He studied under UC electrical engineering professor Chong Ahn, whose startup company Siloam Biosciences was purchased by the publicly traded MiCo BioMed in 2019. Han was one of the founding employees of Siloam in Cincinnati.

In his lab at UC, Ahn is developing simple and portable testing devices for infectious diseases such as malaria. For one experiment published this year in the journal Microsystems & Nanoengineering, he developed a portable lab that plugs into your smartphone, transmitting test results to your doctor. A patient simply puts a single-use plastic lab chip into his or her mouth for sampling saliva then plugs that into a slot in a credit-card-sized analyzer which plugs likewise into a smartphone.

A digital app UC developed can transmit the test results to a doctor or the patient.

Featured image at top: Cotton swabs. Photo/Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash

Chong Ahn holds up a smartphone attached to a portable lab.

UC engineering professor Chong Ahn is developing point-of-care-testing devices in his laboratory. His lab-on-a-chip plugs into a smartphone to transmit results directly to a doctor. Photo/Joseph Fuqua II/UC Creative + Brand

/University Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.