AsianScientist (Mar. 22, 2020) – Molecular diagnostics company Lucence has developed a medical device for collecting samples that can keep viral RNA stable at room temperature for up to one week. Called stabilization of nucleic acid formulation for evaluation of RNA (SAFERSample), the device helps to facilitate testing for RNA viruses such as SARS-CoV-2.
Presently, a definitive diagnosis of COVID-19 requires nose or throat swabs which should ideally be transported in chilled media. However, chilled transport media is not universally available and subject to worldwide shortages, leading to the risk of compromised testing because of specimen drying, contamination or degradation, especially if transported at room temperature.
The SAFER-Sample medical device is a collection kit that comes with a bottle of stabilization fluid to be mixed with the sample at the point of collection, keeping viral RNA stable at room temperature for up to one week. The sample can then be transported to a testing lab without the need for chilling, which especially useful in countries where samples must be transported across large geographical areas for testing.
“We are very glad that our technology, used to reduce suffering of cancer patients, can contribute to accurate testing solutions during this global crisis. In line with our mission of using molecular technology to improve health worldwide, we are making up to 10,000 kits available at no cost to the scientific community,” said Dr. Tan Min-Han, founding CEO of Lucence and adjunct clinician-scientist at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of Agency for Science, Technology and Research of Singapore (A*STAR).
The reagent used in the SAFER-Sample kit was invented at IBN. Experiments demonstrate that SAFER-Sample stabilizes the genetic material of RNA viruses better than other types of specimen transport media at room temperature, facilitating more accurate testing.
“Such public-private partnerships are especially important in times like these, where the translation of innovation in the labs to rapidly fulfill the demands of the healthcare community is critical,” said Dr. Sidney Yee, CEO of Diagnostics Development (DxD) Hub.
DxD Hub is a national initiative led by A*ccelerate, A*STAR’s commercialization arm. The National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) Singapore is currently evaluating noninvasive patient specimens collected with the SAFER-Sample reagent, and Lucence is working with the Ministry of Health Singapore for broader performance evaluation. The SAFER-Sample medical device has been registered with the Health Sciences Authority as a Class A medical device.
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