MSU student develops new COVID test

Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 4:26 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - As COVID cases increased here in Michigan, a Michigan State University student thought about a new way to test for the virus with faster results and a lower cost.

“We were looking for kind of alternative ways to allow for accurate diagnostics in areas that couldn’t necessarily afford to set up these huge testing labs,” said Zach Morehouse.

The fourth year MSU student got in touch with a lab equipment company called Omni International to help. The new test uses some of their machines called homogenizers.

“You put the sample into the collection tube that it would go into either way. That swab then is shaken on our device, and through that shaking process, it gets the virus off of the swab and it breaks apart the virus and so the genetic material is then transferred right into the PCR reaction,” said Morehouse.

His work was just studied in Malawi and published in an online scientific journal.

The test is similar to other COVID tests that use a nasal or oral swab, but it has two major differences.

“We’re hoping that this speeds up the turnaround time on testing, and since there’s not as many resources involved, hopefully it’ll help reduce cost for the tests,” he said.

Traditional testing can require special lab equipment and chemicals. Making the process more cost-effective can help smaller hospitals.

“Unfortunately, everyone doesn’t have deep pockets when it comes to this kind of testing but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be involved with testing, of course,” said Rodney Nash, scientific officer with Omni International.

Morehouse says the goal is to use this technology in the future to detect other viruses like the flu.

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