Rutgers helps produce rapid test, which will be key to reopening NJ
More rapid tests for the novel coronavirus are being developed and manufactured, which will allow patients and doctors to get test results in minutes, rather than days.
One such rapid COVID-19 test, developed by U.S. molecular diagnostics company CEPHIED with a Rutgers University research team, was given emergency approval by the FDA.
The test delivers results in about 45 minutes.
David Alland, director of the Public Health Institute at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, led the research team that assessed a late test prototype and subsequently the completely formulated test.
Currently, tests are sent to a lab and results can take one to five days. The impact of rapid testing will be significant. Because results can be delivered in 45 minutes, it will be a game-changer for crucial medical decisions, including how to triage patients, when to isolate and how to treat.
Additionally, as the world will continue to need to manage COVID-19 in the coming years, the potential ability of this test to be used in doctor’s offices, clinics and even in mobile units could help to detect new small outbreaks of disease before large-scale outbreaks reoccur
The researchers at Rutgers worked with CEPHEID to optimize their sample processing cartridge so that it could essentially function as a self-contained diagnostics laboratory which could be put together on an automated assembly line.
COVID-19 tests can be rapidly designed, quickly produced and widely used.
Brian Gragnolati, the president and CEO of the Atlantic Health System, which has seven hospitals in the state, said the widespread availability of these rapid tests will be key to reopening New Jersey's economy and tamping down the flames of the pandemic forest fire.
Gragnolati said broader tests will "help inform a lot of the modeling that’s going on, to determine really what the penetration of this virus is in the state.”
He said having that information will be critically important to deal with "pocketed outbreaks of this going forward."
He said the spread of the virus is like a forest fire that is moving north to south and even when we get it under control, there will be hot-spots that will flare up again.
“We’re going to need to tamp those out right away, and that’s where that testing piece is going to be very important in helping predict where those spots are going to be so we can get out in front of this," he said.
Rapid testing also will help to preserve the personal protective equipment that is in such short supply because healthcare professionals have to treat every patient as if they do have the virus even if they don't know.
He said as more testing lab platforms get approved “we’re able to start to see some of these platforms be able to support in-house testing,” which can speed up the entire process.
Gragnolati praised the efforts being made by the health care workers on the front line taking care of patients, even as they are wondering “how is this affecting my family members? How is this affecting my friends? And how is this affecting me?”
He said because of the nature of COVID-19, family members of critical care patients cannot be next to their loved ones in the hospital.
“Our team members, in essence, act as surrogate family members for these patients," he said, adding an extra level of stress.
Rutgers has created a new center to coordinate the university’s myriad research and public health and outreach efforts to combat COVID-19. The center’s goal is to serve as an institutional hub for Rutgers' COVID-19 research activities and information dissemination.
David Alland, director of Rutgers’ Public Health Research Institute and chief of infectious diseases at New Jersey Medical School, also serves as the director of the Center for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness.
His lab played a crucial role in evaluating a new test for the novel coronavirus.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com