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University of Saskatchewan researchers developing saliva-based test to detect COVID-19

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research awarded the project team over $550,000 to fund research into the diagnostic test, which they hope will be available by early next year.
By: Alison Larabie Chase
June 26, 2020
Dr. Walter Siqueira. Photo: University of Saskatchewan.

Detect COVID-19 in saliva? The University of Saskatchewan is on it. They have a lab specifically focused on salivary research, led by Dr. Walter Siqueira, a professor of dentistry. He and his team are collaborating with a lab at Western University to develop a new testing device that will be comparable to those currently used to test for pregnancy. If the COVID-19 virus is present in the saliva of the person using the tester, an indicator will change colours.

The testing device uses specific proteins from the COVID-19 antibody as its markers, which Dr. Siqueira says should lead to a high degree of accuracy and allow the device to identify even asymptomatic or mild cases of COVID-19. The test will also be faster and less invasive than current testing methods and suitable for home use, increasing access for people in remote areas without nearby medical assistance.

The team just received a funding grant of more than $550,000 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to continue developing their test. They are working to secure test samples now and hoping to be able to make the test available to the public by March 2021.

Source: University of Saskatchewan

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