HK researchers develop system to identify 40 infectious respiratory pathogens in 1 hour
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) Tuesday announced the development of a new system that can identify 30 to 40 infectious respiratory pathogens in one single test within an hour, including novel coronavirus and bird flu virus.
The system was developed by a research team led by Terence Lau Lok-ting, director of Innovation and Technology Development, and adjunct professor at the Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology of PolyU.
Lau said that the system includes a fully automated machine and a multiplex full-screening panel for the point-of-care genetic testing (POCT) of respiratory infectious disease. The new technology can significantly improve the sensitivity of detection, hence enhancing the reliability of test results.
Lau said the system is simple and easy to operate, with manual handling not being required throughout the testing process. It can identify up to 40 infectious respiratory pathogens, while existing technology used in the market can only detect 22 the most.
By using the new system, the identification can be done in one single test and within approximately one hour, he added.
"Early and accurate detection of pathogens could contribute to effective and efficient disease control and management, and prevent spreading of any contagious pathogens. It benefits the patients as well because timely therapy can then be applied to prevent complications," Lau said.
The team started to develop the system four years ago. It has been optimized in the past year when trials on different clinical samples had been conducted. In the midst of the 2019-nCoV outbreak, the team has also conducted tests on clinical samples using the system.
The new technology can substantially reduce the cost of production, making it feasible for wide adoption and the university is ready for mass-scale production, Lau said.