A Madison-based diagnostics company wants to make testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus easier and quicker for patients and health care providers.
GoDx has been developing paper-based tests for pathogens that cause gastrointestinal diseases, such as salmonella and norovirus. While those tests are currently undergoing clinical trials, GoDX is now working on a similar test for the new coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease COVID-19.
The test GoDx is developing, CEO Chang Hee Kim said, wouldn't require a lab, instead offering results at the point of care in about 30 minutes.
"We pivoted quickly to try to detect the COVID because we knew we could detect the DNA and RNA (genetic material) of bacteria and viruses rapidly using pregnancy test-like paper strips," Kim said.
The National Institute of Health's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences awarded GoDx with a supplement of $200,000 to help the company develop this test. That's in addition to $2.7 million in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding awarded for the gastrointestinal disease tests.
Most of the currently approved tests for the coronavirus require specialized equipment to detect the virus. Kim said the paper-based test using saliva or nasopharyngeal swabs that GoDx is developing wouldn't require that level of sophistication and could be done outside of a lab.
"We want to make the test available to labs and hospitals that don't have the instruments," Kim said. "The whole goal of our company is to democratize diagnostics so that we can bring rapid, low-cost diagnostics to everyone."
Kim said he plans to submit the test for Food and Drug Administration emergency use approval by the end of June.
GoDx, which is based at University Research Park on Madison's West Side, is running trials of its rapid tests for gastrointestinal bugs, which contribute to more than 2 million preventable deaths globally each year.
Kim said the coronavirus test may be easier to run because it uses saliva or nose and throat swabs instead of stool samples used to detect the gastrointestinal bugs.
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