Center director Prof. Steven A. Soper and his research team at the University of Kansas have received grant funding from the National Institutes of Health RADx program to develop a new at-home rapid COVID-19 test, which will yield results in about 15 minutes. The test consists of a small plastic chip that a person would put their saliva into, and a handheld device that interacts with the chip to analyze the sample for virus particles and gives the user a quick result. “It uses small pieces of DNA that recognize the spike protein in the virus particle. The chip is exposed to blue light inside the device, and the reaction produces an electrical signal that lets you know if you have COVID-19,” Soper explains. The handheld device would cost about $50 and the chips cost about $10 each. Soper’s hope is that rapid tests could be performed at bars, restaurants, sporting events, school buildings, and many other public places, and could indicate on the spot whether a person has COVID-19 and is infectious. No other test currently on the market can tell whether or not a person is infectious.
FDA approval for new tests usually takes years to obtain, but because of the urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic, the goal is to get new diagnostic tests on the market quickly. Soper and his students have been working around the clock since June 2020 to develop and assess their new tests, and hope to have emergency use authority from the FDA by early 2021, with mass production of test chips by the end of spring and distribution by autumn.
Click the links below for interviews and articles with Soper and his team:
Unwinding: Steven Soper discusses new COVID test (KU College Stories, 2/5/2021)
Rapid at-home COVID-19 test developed at KU moves closer to production (KMBC 9, 1/21/2021)
COVID-19 rapid test under development at KU moving closer to commercial readiness (KU News, 1/20/2021)
KU researchers developing a new, at-home assay for COVID-19 (kansasalumni magazine, Issue 4, 2020)
KU team developing rapid at-home COVID-19 test (KMBC 9, 9/30/2020)
KU professor creating at-home rapid COVID-19 test (KSHB 41, 9/30/2020)
KU researchers developing quick-turnaround COVID-19 test (KU News, 9/29/2020)
An Unprecedented Impact, Part 3: Progress on Hold (United for Medical Research, July 2020)