Coronavirus: UAE researchers develop new portable COVID-19 test

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Researchers in the United Arab Emirates have developed a portable COVID-19 testing kit that delivers results in 45 minutes, state news agency WAM reported on Friday.

The testing kit is no larger than an average smartphone and was developed by researchers at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi. PCR testing is currently the most common method used to determine if a person has the novel coronavirus and is conducted via a nasal swab, but the new testing kit uses a different method.

“The researchers at [Khalifa University] used the Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification method, LAMP, to provide a rapid, sensitive, and specific detection of the COVID-19 virus. It is faster than the conventional PCR method and uses primers that target two specific regions of the viral RNA,” the WAM statement read.

The portable test is now in its clinical validation phase, WAM reported.

“…There is no need for any sophisticated equipment as the kit performs COVID-19 detection directly from a patient’s [nasal] swab. A simple color change shows the result: pink for negative, yellow for positive,” WAM reported.

The researchers also said the device will be useful once the coronavirus pandemic is over as it will be capable of detecting other viruses, like influenza.

The research team was led by Dr. Anas Alazzam, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Khalifa University, and Dr. Habiba AlSafar, director of the Khalifa University Center for Biotechnology and associate professor of genetics and molecular biology.

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