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Saliva Test for COVID-19 Developed by URI Researchers

The university has been working with the state Health Department in developing the new test, and with Thermo Fisher Scientific “to validate the test and provide the necessary supply chain for distribution.”

by G. Wayne Miller, Providence Journal / March 16, 2021
TNS
(TNS) — An easier new test for COVID-19 developed by University of Rhode Island scientists is beginning a small trial this week as the university moves toward emergency-use authorization by the FDA.
 
The test is simpler to administer and receive and “is sensitive, specific and can deliver results at a lower cost,” the university said Tuesday in announcing it.
 
“One of the things we set out to do was to develop a less-invasive, more cost-effective, more accessible test,” said Angela Slitt, a professor of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences who leads the team that has been developing it. “And I think we’ve done that. We use saliva, work off different supply chains, use different, less cost-prohibitive instrumentation and are effectively lowering the barriers to entry for many.”
 
The university has been working with the state Health Department in developing the new test, and also with Waltham, Mass.-based Thermo Fisher Scientific, “to validate the test and provide the necessary supply chain for distribution,” the university said.
 
URI President David M. Dooley praised the team’s efforts, saying “from start to finish, this has been an extraordinary team effort drawing on expertise and support from across the university, as well as from the Rhode Island Department of Health and experts in industry, to protect our students and make a positive impact for others.”
 
The university has opened a lab on its main Kingston campus expressly for the trial, which is being launched in partnership with URI Athletics and URI Health Services. Researchers “will screen student athletes and others who consent to take part, with the data collected to be included as part of the university's application to the FDA,” URI said.
 
According to the university, FDA approval of the test would have “far-reaching implications, both at home and abroad, in terms of increasing accessibility to testing to help manage pandemic response.
 
“In Rhode Island, FDA approval of the test would mean that it could be made widely available for surveillance and risk assessment on URI's campuses, to local colleges and universities, as well as to schools across the state to assist in monitoring and testing for the coronavirus. Outside of the United States, it could have a profound impact.”
 
Slitt also struck those national and global themes in her comments, declaring “with minimal scientific equipment, we can not only increase our capacity in the United States but also help to put tools into the hands of people in developing countries that they can use.”
 
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: URI researchers have developed a saliva-based COVID test
 
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