| 11.2°C Dublin

Scientists here secure funding for 'game-changer' 30-minute virus test

Close

Team: Patrick Mulhare, of University Hospital Waterford, Dr Denise O’Meara, of WIT; and Dr Lee Coffey, of BioEnz Technologies. Photo: Patrick Browne

Team: Patrick Mulhare, of University Hospital Waterford, Dr Denise O’Meara, of WIT; and Dr Lee Coffey, of BioEnz Technologies. Photo: Patrick Browne

Team: Patrick Mulhare, of University Hospital Waterford, Dr Denise O’Meara, of WIT; and Dr Lee Coffey, of BioEnz Technologies. Photo: Patrick Browne

A team of Waterford scientists is working on a ground-breaking Covid-19 test which will allow for highly accurate virus sample results within just 30 minutes.

The fastest laboratory test for Covid-19 currently requires a two-hour time span for results - and is only available in a select number of hospitals.

A virus test which can deliver accurate, reliable results after just 30 minutes has been described as a potential "game-changer" in the battle against the pandemic.

The team from Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), BioEnz Technologies and University Hospital Waterford (UHW) have secured major funding to fine-tune a virus test to a 30-minute turn-around time.

Such speedy test results will transform the capabilities of the Irish healthcare system in handling the virus - and dramatically reduce the number of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals having to go into precautionary self-isolation measures, stripping the health service of vital resources.

The IDA, Science Foundation Ireland and Enterprise Ireland have confirmed funding of €118,000 to support the Waterford venture.

BioEnz founder Dr Lee Coffey is leading the project which aims to fine-tune a precise test for Covid-19. "The most reliable Covid-19 tests use a technique called polymerase chain reaction, or PCR," Dr Coffey said.

"The virus is cracked open and the genetic material, or RNA, is extracted. This is then copied over and over using PCR until it can be detected."

The Waterford team now aims to reduce the time needed for an accurate result by 75pc.

"We also plan to validate the method on a wider range of equipment, thereby increasing the number of labs capable of testing for Covid-19."

BioEnz will work with the pathology department at UHW under Patrick Mulhare and WIT researchers Dr Orla O'Donovan, Dr David O'Neill, Dr Denise O'Meara and Dr Andrew Harrington. 

Irish Independent