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Portuguese scientists create rapid diagnostic test from saliva

Dr Photo - Portuguese scientists create rapid diagnostic test from salivaEarlier today it was announced that a team of Portuguese scientists have created a saliva test to detect Covid-19 in just an hour.

The diagnostic test for Covid-19 using saliva collection was developed by a team from the Institute of Chemical and Biological Technology (ITQB), António Xavier of Universidade Nova de Lisboa, in collaboration with the Army’s Laboratory of Bromatology and Biological Defense and the Armed Forces Hospital.

A first pilot screening of the test will be carried out today with ITQB volunteers, the institution announced today in a press release.

The test, applied directly to saliva samples, uses a technology that provides a result in 30 to 60 minutes via color change visible to the naked eye. 

“If the reaction is pink, the test is negative. If it is yellow, it is positive,” says the ITQB note, noting that the test is “particularly suitable” for screening Covid-19 at airports, homes or schools, given its “speed, sensitivity, ease of harvest and low cost”.

The collection is made by the person, who spits saliva into a container, eliminating the use of swabs and the use of specialized personnel.

Direct testing of saliva samples means it possible to detect Covid-19 with less than 100 viral particles, with “85% accuracy”.  When SARS-CoV-2 genetic material is then extracted from the saliva, the accuracy of the test then increases to 100%, ensures the ITQB.

The test, based on a technology that amplifies the genetic material of the coronavirus at a “constant temperature”, can be performed with basic resources, such as an electric plate or a water bath at 65ºC.

In order to be used by the population, the test must still be validated and approved by the relevant authorities.

The project was financed at 35,000 euros by the Foundation for Science and Technology, under the call for research on Covid-19 “Research4COVID-19”.

The use of saliva as a means of diagnosing Covid-19 is also being studied by the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC), in collaboration with the hospitals Dona Estefânia, in Lisbon, and Amadora-Sintra. The study plans to test 300 people, 33% of whom are infected, from all age groups.

So far, the procedure “has been validated in about 80 hospitalized people, where, among others, the effectiveness of saliva compared to the nasopharyngeal sample has shown promising results “, according to a statement from the IGC released today.

Original article available in Portuguese at http://postal.pt/