Salt Lake City Team Working To Combat Coronavirus
Feb 6, 2020, 10:54 PM | Updated: Feb 17, 2020, 10:16 am
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Thousands of miles from the center of the epidemic, a team at a small lab in Salt Lake City is jumping into the fight to help stop the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus.
“Tech like this is really the first step in confronting the spread of a disease like this,” said Andrew Benson, head of corporate communications at Co-Diagnostics.
Inside the laboratory, lab analyst Madison Stark is monitoring a machine as it extracts samples for the coronavirus. For two weeks she and her colleagues have worked to design a test to speed up the process to detect the disease that, at last check, had spread to more than 25 countries, infected tens of thousands and killed more than 600 people.
“This is one that came in acutely and we had to act immediately,” Stark said. “It’s our technology that is very specific. It’s very easy to generate.”
“You can only treat people accurately if you know what they have to begin with,” Benson said.
The process begins with collecting five microliters of a human sample, like saliva or blood. The sample is carefully placed into tiny tubes which are put into the company’s small Co-Dx box, that can be used “basically anywhere,” according to Stark. It then goes through a process called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) which makes copies of the DNA and amplifies it.
“What it does is it runs through a series of temperatures. And that’s what makes the DNA break apart and then come back together and then break apart,” Stark said.
The results come in. And the user can see who has the coronavirus and who doesn’t.
“You could conceivably go from sample to result in the space of about two hours or less,” Benson said.
Amid an outbreak overseas, time matters. Which is why Co-Diagnostics hopes to have their test in the hands of those who need it in no time. “Hopefully to be able to do some good in these areas where the panic is growing and there doesn’t seem to be any slowdown,” Benson said.
According to a statement from Co-Diagnostics, “its research use only (RUO) CoPrimer™ test for the 2019-nCoV coronavirus is ready for sale to appropriate laboratories, hospitals, and institutions in need of a solution to the current coronavirus epidemic.”