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World-first disposable Covid-19 diagnostic test that gives results in under 10 minutes developed by Sense Biodetection

Sense Biodetection is developing the world’s first instrument-free Covid-19 diagnostic test for use at the point of care - and says it offers reliable results in under 10 minutes.

The company, which has bases in St Ives in Cambridgeshire and at Abingdon in Oxfordshire, has announced an accelerated programme to launch the self-contained test, which overcomes the challenges of existing machine-based testing processes or the need for highly secure category 3 laboratories.

Sense Biodetection's Veros SARS-CoV-2 disposable test (33639243)
Sense Biodetection's Veros SARS-CoV-2 disposable test (33639243)

Rather than a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, which is the current standard, Sense’s diagnostic is the first disposable nucleic acid test for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus responsible for the pandemic.

It uses a nasal swab sample to give a rapid result anywhere - and the company says its performance is equivalent to Gold Standard laboratory tests.

Sense 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.

“Due to its flexibility, speed and accuracy, the test 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."

The company is working closely with Phillips-Medisize, a Molex company and leading global medical device innovator, developer and manufacturer, to scale up production of the molecular diagnostic test.

It is hoped the test could be available in a few months - and eventually could be available for use by people in their own homes.

The test exploits proprietary chemistry and device technologies developed by Sense over the last six years for other infectious disease applications including influenza.

The company announced a £12.3m Series A investment round in 2019 co-led by Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC) and Earlybird. Among its backers are biotech star Jonathan Milner, who told the Cambridge Independent last year that he was “super excited” about the company.

Sense has been rapidly scaling and says it is in “in a strong position to impact the current pandemic”.

Mike Anstey, investment partner at CIC, said: "Sense is developing a product that will be hugely important to the global effort to contain Covid-19 in the coming months and potentially years.

“CIC and co-investors Earlybird, Mercia and Jonathan Milner 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.”

The product will be one of the first tests to be marketed by the company under its Veros brand.

Sense was founded in 2014 by Harry and Ralph Lamble, who combined their respective expertise in molecular sciences and medical device design, with a vision of empowering patients through decentralised testing with rapid, handheld products.

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