Imperial College London and Intelligent Fingerprinting join forces to develop a 10-minute fingerprint test for COVID-19

The test uses a portable analysis unit to detect the virus in sweat.
By Tammy Lovell
05:57 am
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Credit: Intelligent Fingerprinting

UK diagnostics firm Intelligent Fingerprinting and Imperial College London have joined forces to develop a simple 10-minute COVID-19 fingerprint test. 

The two organisations plan to pool resources to accelerate the development and validation of the test, which could potentially be used by non-medical staff in settings such as care homes and workplaces. 

They will utilise Intelligent Fingerprinting’s existing technology – which features highly sensitive lateral flow technology and fluorescence measurement techniques within a portable test reader – to create a "point-of-care" test that allows COVID-19 testing to be carried out by non-medical professionals. 

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The test works by collecting fingerprint sweat onto a small test cartridge for analysis. This is then read by a portable DSR-Plus analysis unit, which provides a positive or negative result on-screen in 10 minutes.  

Researchers at the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College will work with Intelligent Fingerprinting to validate its testing approach and accelerate development.

WHY IT MATTERS

A fingerprint-based system could play a significant role in enabling rapid coronavirus testing at the point of care, by reducing the time needed to deliver a positive or negative COVID-19 result. 

As the Intelligent Fingerprinting system uses sweat, rather than nasal or oral fluid samples, it is hygienic, non-invasive and does not result in any hazardous biological waste.

THE LARGER CONTEXT 

Intelligent Fingerprinting introduced its fingerprint drug test system in 2017, which has been used in safety-critical workplace environments such as construction, transport and shipping, as well as in specialist application areas such as detecting drug mules at airports or by traffic police and coroners.

Meanwhile, Dutch biotech startup ViroTact has secured funding for its portable test that it says can detect COVID-19 within 30 seconds. The firm is using platform technology to develop its point-of-care test CoviTact, which identifies the virus through the presence of an essential virus-coded protease in a patient sputum sample.

German diagnostics and medical imaging firm Siemens Healthineers has also announced that it is working on an antibody test, which could be available by the end of May. 

ON THE RECORD

Intelligent Fingerprinting Executive Chairman Philip Hand said: “Bringing together our joint expertise will greatly enhance the potential of delivering this ground-breaking testing solution in a meaningful timeframe.”

Lord Darzi, director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, said: “Adding rapid point of care testing capacity would help us to get much closer to understanding the spread of the virus. Fingerprint testing using a portable system would also be particularly valuable in supporting simple and easy testing by non-medically trained staff at multiple sites across the UK, such as care homes and workplaces.”