Uni seeks further funding to progress rapid Coronavirus detection diagnostic tool

Oxford Covid-19 Vaccine testing

The partnership behind a new diagnostic tool which may allow on-the-spot detection of Coronavirus infection, without facilities using a simple disposal device, is now searching for investment or philanthropic donors to take the concept forward.

The new diagnostic tool, developed by  by the University of Warwick and its partner Iceni Diagnostics  uses glycans (sugars) to detect the virus, using a tool very similar to a home pregnancy test.

There is an urgent need for new diagnostics, especially those which give rapid results for screening of healthcare professions or for getting transportation, education and manufacturing hubs running again.

The diagnostic proof of principle has been demonstrated in initial studies.

Professor Matthew Gibson who holds a joint appointment between the Department of Chemistry and Warwick Medical School said: “The rapid detection of the virus, for both healthcare and to enable society to return to normal is crucial. Our technology, developed through joint PhD student work with our industry partners, makes use of glyco-nanomaterials to detect a specific portion of the coronavirus. The technology is straightforward, and extremely low-cost as the kit is paper-based. The University retained lab-capacity for essential COVID research such as this ensuring we could fulfil the University’s mission to create new knowledge and innovative solutions.”

Professor Robert Field, co-founder and CEO of Iceni diagnostics, added: “It is great working with the fabulous talent in the Gibson team at Warwick. Combining our expertise has enabled us to move this project along rapidly – including initial clinical evaluation. We look forward to extending our working relationship with Warwick to explore diagnostics for other infectious diseases based on carbohydrates and glycopolymers.”

Dr James Lapworth, Warwick Ventures, who is working with Professor Gibson to commercialise the technology, said:

“There is an urgent, global need to increase diagnostic testing capacity for Covid-19 infections. This new approach potentially offers significant benefits because it delivers a very rapid result and requires no specialist lab equipment or training to complete. The result is that people could determine very quickly whether they have a current infection and take appropriate action, for example to self-isolate.”

The research and development of the new tool has been supported by grants from the BBSRC, EPSRC , the University of Warwick and Iceni.