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Intelligent Fingerprinting develops saliva-based lateral flow test for Covid-19 virus

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Fed up with unpleasant lateral flow tests that require nose and throat swabs?

Impington-based Intelligent Fingerprinting has developed an easy-to-use saliva-based lateral flow test to detect the Covid-19 virus.

Intelligent Fingerprinting’s executive chairman Philip Hand
Intelligent Fingerprinting’s executive chairman Philip Hand

It requires a simple swab from inside the cheek, making it ideally suited for testing more vulnerable people and children.

Results are available in 20 minutes - a third quicker than most current nose and throat lateral flow tests.

The company expects it to prove valuable in schools, workplaces, universities, care homes and healthcare setting and at public events.

Intelligent Fingerprinting’s executive chairman Philip Hand said: “Almost everyone who has taken a nose or throat swab to test for Covid-19 knows just how unpleasant they can be. It is important to make Covid-19 testing as easy and comfortable as possible, particularly as frequent and simplified testing will continue to play a key role in the global response to the pandemic.

“In developing our new Covid-19 saliva test, we have successfully combined the benefits of much simpler sample collection with high levels of accuracy using our existing technology.

“The introduction of our new Covid-19 test involved rapid design, development and manufacture within the UK over a 10-month period.

The new Covid-19 saliva test strip from Intelligent Fingerprinting
The new Covid-19 saliva test strip from Intelligent Fingerprinting

“Manufacturing capacity at our Cambridge plant, utilising existing equipment and ISO 13485 quality control, is ready to support the production of millions of tests per month, and we also anticipate we will be working with existing and new distribution partners to make this test available across multiple markets.”

He added: “At Intelligent Fingerprinting we continue to demonstrate our ability to develop entirely new lateral flow testing concepts, in addition to our unique fingerprint-based drug tests that are sold within the UK, US and other international markets.”

The company, based at Evolution Business Park, said the design of the strip was deliberately simple and engineered to minimise the use of plastic. It features none of the plastic casing typically seen with lateral flow tests.

The test has demonstrated 100 per cent sensitivity in testing 150 positive clinical samples - with a Ct range of 18.0 to 28.0 - and 100 per cent specificity following tests with 250 negative clinical saliva samples confirmed by PCR tests.

Intelligent Fingerprinting is finalising the technical file for applying the CE mark on the product under the In Vitro Diagnostics Directive, and planning to transition to the In Vitro Diagnostics Regulation for European CE marking for professional and self-test use.

The company is known for its drug screening system, which works by analysing fingerprint sweat.

How it works

A swab is used to collect the saliva sample from the inside of the lower cheek, which is then mixed with a reagent buffer, supplied in the collection tube, in order to release the virus.

The screening test is performed by inserting the tip of the VSS-GP test strip into the sample, providing a positive or negative result at 20 minutes. No instrumentation is required.

The test uses gold immunonanoparticle technology to enable the visual detection of bound antigen via a control line and a red line on the test strip when a saliva sample is positive for the SARS-CoV-2 antigen.

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