Sense looks to introduce "instrument-free" molecular diagnostic test for COVID-19

Sense Biodetection on Tuesday announced an accelerated programme to manufacture and launch what it calls the world's first instrument-free, point-of-care molecular diagnostic test for SARS-CoV-2. CEO Harry Lamble said "our Veros COVID-19 test product can allow infected patients to be isolated sooner whilst providing reassurance to uninfected individuals, including healthcare workers, that they can return to work without infecting others."

According to Sense, Veros exploits various technologies it has been developing for other infectious disease applications, including influenza. The disposable COVID-19 test uses a nasal swab sample to deliver results in less than 10 minutes, without the need for an analyser to read the test. Further, the company noted that "as a molecular test its performance is equivalent to 'gold standard' laboratory tests, but it is easy to use in any setting."

Lamble suggested that Veros can be "deployed for rapid patient triage within hospitals, as well as primary care practices, pharmacies and community centres, and even distributed for use by individuals in isolation who suspect they may have COVID-19."

To manufacture the tests, Sense has appointed Philips-Medisize, subsidiary of Molex, as its partner. Lamble told FirstWord MedTech that Philips-Medisize is "an extremely well-known name in the field of medical device manufacturing... and the Molex group is owned by [the industrial conglomerate] Koch Industries which is a $100 billion-plus revenue organisation. So they have massive firepower behind them in terms of their scale and potential to ramp up this [COVID-19 test]."

While the company declined to provide specific timelines as to when its test would be ready for launch into the market, Lamble indicated that the firm would be able to "impact the current pandemic and over the coming months." The CEO added that the company "has not yet defined its distribution strategy, but is working actively on that now."

Mike Anstey, investment partner at Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC), which last year co-led a £12.3-million ($15 million) funding round for Sense, commented that the company's COVID-19 test will be "hugely important to the global effort to contain COVID-19 in the coming months and potentially years." CIC and other investors "are working closely with Sense to ensure it has all the resources it needs as it accelerates towards launch of the first disposable nucleic acid test for COVID-19," he added.

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