Genomic medicine startup Lucence announced that the development of the SAFER-Sample (Stabilization of nucleic Acid Formulation for Evaluation of RNA) kit, a sample collection medical device to facilitate more accessible testing of viral infections such as COVID-19.
WHY IT MATTERS
Currently, definitive diagnosis of RNA viral infections such as COVID-19 requires patients with respiratory infections to undergo nose and/or throat swabs, and it is recommended that these samples are transported with 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. Among other factors, accurate diagnostic testing depends on sampling quality, storage and transport to the testing laboratory.
HOW IT WORKS
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, especially useful in countries where samples must be transported across large geographical areas for testing.
The reagent used in the SAFER-Sample kit was invented at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology of A*STAR, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research of Singapore. Experiments demonstrate that SAFER-Sample allows for better stabilization of the genomes of RNA viruses, versus other types of specimen transport media at room temperature, to facilitate more accurate testing.
The National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) Singapore is currently evaluating non-invasive patient specimens collected with the SAFER-Sample reagent, and Lucence is working with the Ministry of Health (MOH) Singapore for broader performance evaluation. The SAFER-Sample kit has been registered with the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) as a Class A medical device.
THE LARGER TREND
Singapore has been hard at work in terms of developing rapid test kits to detect COVID-19, with examples such as the Veredus Laboratories’ VereCoV detection kit and an ongoing development of a rapid test kit by iHealthtech researchers. Other measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 in Singapore include the use of iThermo, an AI-powered temperature screening solution that identifies those who displays signs of fever, as well as the recent TraceTogether contact tracing app which was developed by MOH and GovTech.
Last November, Lucence, which is Singapore-headquartered, raised $20 million in Series A funding led by IHH Healthcare, one of the world’s largest integrated private healthcare groups, MobiHealthNews reported.
ON THE RECORD
“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 A*STAR said in a statement.