‘It’s almost like a home pregnancy test’: KU researchers developing at home COVID test

KSN Digital Extra

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Coronavirus testing could soon get easier in Kansas as researchers at the University of Kansas are developing a new rapid at home COVID-19 test.

“It’s almost like a home pregnancy test,” said Steven Soper, a Foundation Distinguished Professor with appointments in both the School of Engineering and Department of Chemistry. “You apply the sample to the test strip and it tells you whether you’re pregnant or not and this is exactly what’s going to happen with our instrument that we are developing.” 

Professor Soper said it all started with a plastic chip that was initially developed to help with cancer studies. He and his team of six research students were able to modify the chip to collect a saliva sample and detect SARS-CoV-2 particles in the COVID-19 virus.

“We can then count them one by one to figure out if you do have the infection and number two, how bad are you infected in terms of whats called the viral load,” said Soper.

The test results slides into a handheld device which can produce results within 15 minutes.

“You basically spit in the chip and the saliva’s processed directly in the chip,” said Soper. “It’s very inexpensive, very rapid, easy to do and people who can test from home,  I think will be very accommodating for a large number of people, especially if you could do it continuously,” said Soper.

Soper said he and his students have teamed up with Dr. Andy Godwin at the KU Med Center to have the tests used on patient samples. Over the next couple of months the tests will be used and then the results will be sent to the FDA. He said hopes to the at home tests will be available early next year.

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