Colorado researchers develop COVID-19 test that requires no swab and can produce results in 45 minutes

Researchers from the University of Colorado, Boulder, have developed a new rapid, portable, saliva-based COVID-19 test that they say is able to render results in 45 minutes, requiring no swabs.

Scientists who developed the test believe it may be successfully utilized in community environments such as schools and factories, streamlining the coronavirus testing process that has seen many snags in the midst of concerning surges of the illness all over the U.S.

“We are facing a serious testing shortage in this country right now as more people want to get tested and diagnostics labs are overwhelmed,” said Nicholas Meyerson, a postdoctoral associate in the Sawyer Lab at the BioFrontiers Institute at CU Boulder. “We’ve developed a test that could get results to people much faster.”

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The logistics of the test are available in a preprint manuscript posted on July 24 on the online archive Researchers said the tests are designed for widespread screening that will greatly help in identifying asymptomatic individuals.

During the new testing process, a patient spits into a tube. The saliva is mixed with a solution that stabilizes the sample. It is then processed using a pipette, a heating source and an enzyme, according to the researchers. 

A positive coronavirus sample turns from pink to yellow while a negative sample remains pink. 

Test researchers are currently seeking regulatory approval as efforts are underway to conduct further validation tests. 

According to a release by CU Boulder Today, the test has its roots in a 20-year-old technology known as reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP), and has been previously used to screen mosquitoes in the fight against the deadly Zika virus that is found in parts of South America. 

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One experiment involved 60 saliva samples in which 30 were spiked with  SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The saliva samples were shuffled and given to another researcher who used the RT-LAMP technology to screen them. 

“The test predicted with 100% accuracy all of the negative samples, and 29 of 30 positive samples were predicted accurately,” said Meyerson, noting that the 30th test was scored as inconclusive. Additional second-party validation tests are currently underway.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.