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Malaysian companies develop Covid-19 rapid test kitsCredits: The Edge markets
March 27, 2020, By Vanessa Gomes —Malaysian companies develop COVID-19 rapid test kits

A Malaysian company, Medical Innovation Ventures Sdn Bhd (Mediven), has developed a new laboratory test kit for use in testing patient specimens of COVID-19, including influenza and influenza-like illnesses. The single-tube assay — called GenoAmp Real-Time RT PCR Flu A/Flu B/COVID-19/Mers-CoV — can detect and differentiate influenza A (H1N1, H3N2), Influenza B, COVID-19 (E gene, RdRP gene, and spike gene) and Mers-CoV simultaneously from a single drop of a patient’s specimen.

Mediven says in a press statement that the assay has been designed based on the recommended protocols posted by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the coronavirus.

A recent study published in The Lancet (a prestigious UK-based medical journal) on Jan 24 reported that spike genes have better sensitivity to pick up COVID-19 in nasopharyngeal swabs. “The working principle of the test is based on RT-PCR technology, in which RNA molecules of the target viruses are converted into their complementary DNA (cDNA) sequences by reverse transcriptases, followed by the amplification of the newly synthesized cDNA by standard PCR procedures,” says Dr. Nicole Tang, the scientist behind the test.

“RT-PCR is currently the procedure of choice in the detection and confirmation of influenza and influenza-like illnesses.”

Due to the nature of these closely related diseases, it is often difficult to differentiate the physical symptoms of one disease from another, says the statement. Symptoms may include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

The kit is an early screening test that enables simultaneous testing in a single-tube, compared with the existing multi-tube assays available. This allows improvement of efficiency in workflow, maximizing throughput and helps hospitals screen patients faster.

Speed is of utmost importance in saving lives and curbing the spread of emerging infectious diseases such as COVID-19,” says Mediven Operations Director Dr. Lim Li Sze in the statement.

“We aim to provide an accurate and efficient tool that healthcare professionals are able to add to their arsenal in the battle to control this spreading contagion,” says Mediven Executive Director Ariff Ismail.

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