Test chip for multiple respiratory viruses approved
CHENGDU - A newly developed nucleic acid test chip that can detect and distinguish six respiratory viruses, including the novel coronavirus, has been approved by China's National Medical Products Administration.
The virus chip was the result of joint work of experts from prestigious West China Hospital affiliated to Sichuan University, Tsinghua University in Beijing and a Chengdu-based biotech company.
It was designed and developed under the guidance of renowned Chinese respiratory specialist Zhong Nanshan and epidemiologist Li Lanjuan. The two academicians with the Chinese Academy of Engineering are also members of a national expert team set up for the control and prevention of the novel coronavirus epidemic.
With secretion samples collected from patients' noses and throats, the virus chip can detect six common respiratory viruses including the novel coronavirus all at once within 1.5 hours. Each chip allows the detection of 16 samples in a single assay at the same time, according to West China Hospital.
The device has been verified and completed human trials of hundreds of cases in hospitals and the center for disease control and prevention of Sichuan Province.
Compared with traditional test kits, the rapid detection chip of multiple respiratory viruses is easier to operate and has little exposure to viruses, lowering the risk of infection.
The breakthrough is expected to improve detection precision and help patients be treated quickly. It will soon be used at the front lines to fight against the epidemic, said the hospital.
People with the novel coronavirus infection, the flu, or a cold typically develop respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough and runny nose. Even though many symptoms are alike, they are caused by different viruses.
Because of these similarities, it can be difficult to identify the disease based on symptoms alone. Laboratory tests are therefore required to distinguish and confirm if someone has a novel coronavirus infection.
The nucleic acid test remains the most important method for diagnosing the novel coronavirus infection. A group of leading Chinese universities and research institutes has developed faster detection kits for the novel coronavirus nucleic acid.