The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is supporting a research project at the Cologne University Hospital and the Medical Faculty with over 400,000 euros.
The aim is to develop a rapid test to detect SARS-CoV-2 from smears.
The research team consists of the CECAD Members Prof. Dr. Bernhard Schermer and Univ.-Prof. Dr. Roman-Ulrich Müller, both also Clinic II for Internal Medicine, Priv.-Doz. Dr. Volker Burst from Clinic II for Internal Medicine and Univ.-Prof. Dr. Florian Klein, director of the Institute for Virology.
"Our goal is to develop a fast, inexpensive and, above all, practical corona test procedure, which can be used on site without complex laboratory equipment, but which can keep pace with the current gold standard in terms of sensitivity and specificity", says project manager Prof. Schermer. The test result should be visible either by means of a band on a test strip or by a color change. Prof. Schermer estimates the time for a test to be 30 to 60 minutes.
In the currently common corona test, ribonucleic acids (RNA) are first purified from smears. These contain the genetic information of the coronavirus, which in turn can be multiplied and detected with a real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). The qPCR is rightly regarded as the gold standard, but it requires complex analysis equipment and thus usually the transport of the sample to a special laboratory. It takes a few hours until the result is available.
“In Germany we have sufficient capacity for established diagnostics. The current discussions about regular tests in many different areas of public life show, that fast alternative test procedures can be of great importance in the future, ”explains the virologist Prof. Klein.
The great interest in the work is proven by more than 500 downloads of the preprint on the medRxiv science platform.
The project funding is set to run for 18 months and is part of the call for funding for research into COVID-19 in the course of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak on March 3, 2020.
Modified press release from University Hospital Cologne