COVID-19 Could Be Identified in Minutes via Mobile Technology

Fast testing during viral outbreaks, such as the current COVID-19, could assist to prevent its spread, saving lives and money.

What if you had a handheld, battery-powered, real-time polymerase chain reaction (real-time PCR) device to take to the farm, the factory, or any site, that could fast test and relay sample data via an iPhone app – all potentially within 40 minutes.

Ubiquitome, a New Zealand company, has developed that device – the Liberty 16. Initial testing of the Liberty16 using COVID-19 sequences validated by the US CDC and approved by the US FDA for COVID-19 testing has been positive.

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Now Ubiquitome is showing Liberty 16 to the world.

Ubiquitome received a last-minute request to speak at the 27th International Molecular Medicine Tri-Conference in San Francisco March 1 – 4. The conference focuses on emerging therapeutic, diagnostic and technology approaches to advance precision medicine, digital health and Bio-IT.

Called Liberty 16 because it can run 16 tests at the same time, it is a miniature DNA photocopier. It can amplify specific target DNA sequences to show the presence of any DNA of interest, whether that be human, animal, or wider environmental pathogens.

It has been successfully trialled internationally, most recently at Germany’s Friedrich-Loeffler Institute. There it was used to detect traces of the viral RNA of PPRV, a highly contagious disease that affects sheep and goats.

The Liberty 16 performed the same as the large laboratory-scale, real-time PCR machines currently being used to test for COVID-19.

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Fresh from a US$1 million capital raise mostly from New Zealand angel investors, chairman and CEO Dr Paul Pickering says Ubiquitome is now validating Liberty 16 for mobile use during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Prior to Ubiquitome, Dr Pickering held executive and general management roles with real time PCR market leader Life Technologies/Thermo Fisher.

Fellow Ubiquitome director Richard Creager is a former chief science officer of Beckman Coulter.

Early successes for Liberty 16, including the detection of septicaemia in blood and urine to blood pathogens that cause septicaemia, led to the German institute trials. At Tri-Con in San Francisco Dr Pickering will present data from the tests in Germany and the United Kingdom to some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies and leading academics.

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