The LAMP test
The lifting of restrictions in Slovakia is forecasting better days for event organisers. However, until the general vaccination rate is sufficient enough, organising predominantly large events will be impossible without rapid testing. In some European countries, they have already successfully implemented rapid tests at large events. Slovakia, as a pioneer in this field, has already developed several solutions for quick tests.
One of the latest innovations is the LAMP test by the company MultiplexDX, led by the acclaimed biochemist Pavol Čekan. The test was developed in cooperation with the Biomedical Center of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (BMC SAS) and the Public Health Office of the Slovak Republic. The project was supported by the Agency for the Support of Research and Development in Slovakia.
LAMP testing is another form of a genetic test, which can detect the RNA of the virus. The testing is done by taking samples through gargling or saliva instead of using a nasal swab, which is uncomfortable for many. Gargling tests are currently used in schools, but they might soon be available as an alternative to PCR tests at larger gatherings such as sports events, concerts and congresses. The main advantages of the revolutionary invention are:
– compared to RT-PCR tests, they do not require a diagnostic lab. Hence, they can be taken to mobile testing sites
– results are available in an hour
– high sensitivity, also for the South-African mutation of the virus
– the distinction between Covid-19 and influenza
– tests can be evaluated by non-medical staff
In 2021, Pavol Čekan, the CEO of the MultiplexDX company, together with a group of researchers, developed a new differential test that can distinguish between COVID-19 and influenza. Due to its sensitivity, it ranks among the best such tests on the market. As the test has also obtained the necessary certification, it will soon be put into use. Their efforts were encouraged by the awareness that the fighting against the next wave of coronavirus can coincide with the arrival of the flu season. Given the similar symptoms of the disease, it will be crucial to distinguish patients with classical influenza from those with coronavirus.
During the flu season, more than a million Slovaks are struggling with acute respiratory diseases. Slovak researchers, therefore, decided to develop an easily available test that can distinguish seasonal influenza from COVID-19. The basis remains the RT-qPCR test developed for COVID-19 in the spring of 2020, but with several innovations. As Pavol Čekan, CEO of MultiplexDX explained: “We have significantly increased the sensitivity of our test and, of course, we have expanded its scope to seasonal influenza viruses, but also simplified test handling.”
The new production process will also allow tests at room temperature, delivery logistics, storage of tests, but also their use. Differentiation tests will be especially important in the co-occurrence of these very similar symptoms. Referring to the test, showing the negative results for COVID-19 and positive results for flu, we can be more confident that we are not letting a false negative patient into the streets, which is the biggest benefit of this type of coronavirus test. The new test will work on both type A and type B influenza strains.