Dutch startup ViroTact secures funding for COVID-19 test that can detect virus in 30 seconds

The test is expected to be available within eight weeks.
By Tammy Lovell
01:29 am
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Biotech startup ViroTact has secured funding for its portable test that can detect COVID-19 within 30 seconds.

Dutch venture capital firm Carduso Capital said it had “given a substantial financial injection to accelerate development and time to market.”

According to the Telegraph, funding secured from Carduso and John Molina of U.S. firm Molina Healthcare is thought to value the firm at up to £10 million.

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WHAT THEY DO

ViroTact is part of Detact Diagnostics, a life-science company based in the Netherlands, formed by former trauma surgeon Joost Gazendam in 2014.

According to its website, the firm is using platform technology to develop its point-of-care test CoviTact, which identifies COVID-19 through the presence of an essential virus-coded protease in a patient sample.

It works by adding the ViroTact near-infrared quenched substrate to samples of saliva or bodily fluid. If the essential virus-encoded protease is present, near-infrared light is emitted, which can be identified by a handheld detector.

WHAT IT’S FOR

The funding is being used to accelerate pre-clinical trials of the CoviTact smart molecule detection system, so the business can provide comprehensive data to prove its effectiveness. It is expected to take around eight weeks to complete development work.

Meanwhile, tests from German diagnostics and medical imaging firm Siemens Healthineers could become available by June. The company has announced it is expanding its SARS-CoV-2 testing to include a total antibody test by the end of this month.

Digital hospital Medbelle announced in March that it will be selling COVID-19 test kits to private patients for £225 in an attempt to help the NHS better understand the virus and expand testing capabilities in the UK. The test involves taking a mucus sample from the nose and mouth, which the customer will self-swab and send off to a testing laboratory. It takes at least three days for the results to be processed and sent out to the patient by encrypted email.

Also in March, scientists at the University of Oxford’s Engineering Science Department and the Oscar Suzhou Centre for Advance Research (OSCAR) announced they had developed a faster-acting test to establish whether patients are infected with the coronavirus within half an hour. The team at Oxford is working on a fully integrated version of the test that could be deployed in airports, clinics and homes.

ON THE RECORD

Gazendam, ViroTact founder and CEO, said: “Thanks to the simple design and portable detector, it is possible to immediately determine whether a person is carrying the virus. Our test can be used at point of care, at the general practitioner, at the emergency room or at a mobile test location and, for example, at airports and contributes to containment of the spread of the virus.”