University of New Brunswick develops portable diagnostic tests for coronavirus

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Researchers at the University of New Brunswick are proposing a faster way to diagnose COVID-19 with point-of-care devices that can be used by clinicians.

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“Essentially, the test would be similar to a glucose sensor for diabetics. It’s a small, disposable electrode that you put into an analyzer and then give a result, ”said Connor Flynn, a researcher at the University of New Brunswick.

UNB researchers received $ 409,854 from the New Brunswick Foundation for Innovation, the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency for 13 projects involving on the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will support research in nursing, education and chemistry.

The goal of the test project is to provide a test to detect the virus within minutes to increase testing capacity and reduce wait times in emergency departments.

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Connor Flynn.


Megan Yamoah / Global News


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“Point-of-care devices, unlike other traditional tests, are generally very inexpensive. It’s still a little early for us to say for sure how much it will cost at this point, but it will certainly be cheaper than what we have now, ”said Flynn.

Currently, there are two main diagnostic methods available to detect the coronavirus. The first method reveals the presence of the virus and the second detects antibodies produced in the bloodstream in response to infection.

“When we apply electricity to a biological or chemical sample, what kind of information can we learn from it? And we use that information to tell us whether the virus is present or not, ”Flynn said.

Connor Flynn

Researchers at the University of New Brunswick are proposing a faster way to diagnose COVID-19 with point-of-care devices that can be used by clinicians.


Megan Yamoah / Global News


David MaGee, vice president of research at UNB, said the researchers “want to join this global fight to try to get this virus under control.”

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“It is not yet a given that a vaccine will be found that will be as broad and useful as we hope,” said MaGee.

Flynn looks forward to seeing the results of the researchers’ work.

“I feel like there is something special about the research that can be pulled out of the lab and that you can see that it is being instituted in the society around you,” he said.

He says the team expects to see results within a month and “hope to have a working prototype in the next few months.”










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