Amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. government has come under fire for how long it has taken to get test kits out to healthcare facilities so they can test for COVID-19 in patients. In the last week, the government has allowed states to conduct their own testing for the virus, but the results still take at least 24 hours to come through.
One Massachusetts company says it has a solution: rapid detection.
Irene Bosch, founder and COO of E25Bio, says her Cambridge-based laboratory could help solve the coronavirus testing problem with its technology.
“The objective of this company is to produce an early and fast detection of a virus that causes an epidemic,” Bosch said. “So our technology It’s just like a pregnancy test.”
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Specifically, Bosch is referring to a rapid point of care diagnostic test, which delivers results in minutes, similar to a pregnancy test.
"In pregnancy, what they detect is a certain hormone that is present when you’re pregnant," Bosch said. "The same way we detect a viral protein that circulates when you’re infected.”
Bosch along with many experts say this type of rapid testing is what’s needed to slow the spread of novel coronavirus.
Interim CEO Bobby Brooke Herrera says this is much faster than the governments test kits, which can take hours to perform and days to report.
“That time window is about three to five days before a patient ever receives their results. So in an outbreak setting like the one we're facing today it’s actually untenable,” Herrera said.
Because in that time, an infected patient could further spread the virus before they know they’re infected. And more people could be infected than we know.
But the product is not on the market yet, and even once that happens, the question of cost, especially for lower income communities, still remains.
“Our major goal is to provide affordable early detection of viruses,” Herrera said.
The company says it's not a problem because its tests cost far less to produce than others.
"You walk away in your packet with what you need," Bosch said.
E25Bio says it's working with hospitals and universities in the Boston area to get its product approved quickly so it can get to market.