How innovation is saving lives. 3 examples of new ideas to fight COVID-19
“Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.” – Walter Anderson
March 30, 2020
COVID-19 ON THE RADAR
Meridian Bioscience Inc. helps with COVID-19 test kit creation
Dr. Sergey Gubanov, Senior Director of Operations – Molecular..
Courtesy of Meridian Bioscience Inc.
Meridian Bioscience Inc., located in Cincinnati, is an international producer and distributor of a range of diagnostic test kits. While Meridian doesn’t make a COVID-19 test kit, it is using its proprietary technologies to help those developing tests for COVID-19.
Meridian’s hope is that diagnostic companies around the world will be able to use their specialized enzyme formulations to develop COVID-19 detection assays with greater sensitivity, faster run-times and formatted for high throughput testing.
Flyover Future checked in with Charlie Wood, VP of Corporate Strategy of the company, for a Q&A.
How is Meridian helping to address the shortage of COVID-19 test kits in the U.S.?
Meridian does not make a COVID-19 diagnostic test kit. However, our Life Science division is a manufacturer of key raw materials critical in any molecular diagnostic test.
We have molecular master mixes that perform well in tests designed to detect DNA and RNA viruses and their resulting infections including SARS-COV-2.
Additionally, we are now offering samples of our master mixes free of charge to diagnostic testing companies that are working on COVID-19 tests, which should accelerate the development of new tests and hopefully help to ameliorate the shortage as more tests become available.
How do your formulations fit into the development of test kits?
Master mixes are a critical component of every molecular test kit. A diagnostic company needs to add the target-specific primers and probes (in this case for SARS-COV-2) and the kit is complete.
The type of formulation used depends on whether the kit is in liquid or dried format. Dry format provides for extended storage and simplifies shipping and storage for the end customer which minimizes temperature control requirements.
Does it meet WHO, CDC, and FDA guidelines?
All of our products are manufactured under ISO13485, which is a quality system needed for medical device regulations. Any diagnostic company can use our products and feel confident that as a supplier we can meet their requirements.
Diagnostic companies can then apply themselves, with their finished kit that includes our reagent, to the regulatory authorities of their choice to get FDA, CFDA, ANVISA, or whichever other certification depending on their market.
Much of the early work was done for China, correct? How is Meridian working with U.S. companies?
You are correct that most of the diagnostic test development started in China, but there are a multitude of companies across the globe developing tests for COVID-19. Meridian is working with companies in the U.S. and Europe in the same way that we are working with companies in China and elsewhere.
How are you keeping up with demand for your products to meet the current COVID-19 testing crisis?
We are not a “just in time” type of business, given we are a critical supplier of the healthcare industry; we keep inventory of both finished goods and raw materials on hand to facilitate our ability to flex to market demands.
Additionally, we have been working with our suppliers to ensure we can continue to meet the demand from our customers.
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Two Michigan companies developing drive-thru COVID-19 testing facilities
SampleServe, a medical and environmental app developer, and special events tent manufacturer TentCraft are teaming up to create rapid COVID-19 drive-thru testing facilities that could be operational within a matter of weeks.
The two Traverse City-based companies announced plans to combine their disparate technologies to help combat the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
SampleServe specializes in mobile field testing, utilizing a suite of apps and Bluetooth technology to significantly reduce the time needed for sample collection and “paperwork” processing time. When combined with custom-designed drive-thru tent facilities provided by TentCraft, the result is a scalable, temporary drive-thru facility capable of conducting hundreds and thousands of rapid COVID-19 tests in short order.
SampleServe CEO Russell Schindler expects the healthcare test kits to be available within a week and priced at or below $3 per unit. While the tents built by TentCraft are substantially more expensive—$5,000 per unit—the overall cost per testing facility is still quite low, all things considered.
Click here for a quick overview of how the SampleServe testing kit would work in the field for COVID-19 testing.
Portable furnace could reduce coronavirus spread
A team of researchers at St. Louis’ Washington University is developing a “high temperature sterilization system” aimed at killing the coronavirus before it can land on surfaces and make people sick.
Hongxi Yin, an associate professor of advanced building systems and architectural design, is leading the effort, based on the idea that the virus in hospitals and treatment centers is being sent through the facilities’ HVAC systems—spreading the disease via contaminated building exhaust.
Yin’s team thinks that purifying the HVAC airflow via a small heat chamber before the air gets sent out of the building could deactivate 99.999% of the disease-causing organisms. Three seconds in the chamber at 257 degrees Fahrenheit could be enough to purify the airflow.
While there are still design and logistical considerations to work out, this could be a promising avenue to pursue.
FLYOVER U RESEARCH
Purdue helps AI startup toward acquisition
FWDNXT Inference Engine Demo Via Eugenia Culurciello and YouTube
Increasingly, major research universities are going the extra mile to help entrepreneurs find success in the startup world. One example is FWDNXT, a startup that was launched by Eugenio Culurciello, an associate professor in Purdue University’s College of Engineering.
FWDNEXT develops artificial intelligence hardware and software to work on deep learning for data analytics, particularly in edge computing and IoT. FWDNXT was acquired in October by Micron Technology.
Culurciello also worked with the Purdue Foundry, the university’s startup hub. Purdue Foundry has churned out over 250 startups since 2013, representing $400 million in funding and 350 new jobs. Sounds like a win-win-win collaboration.
Powering tomorrow’s wearable devices
Power storage is the holy grail of energy technology nowadays. Whether we’re trying to power our phones, our Fitbits, our cars, or our homes, there’s usually a barrier of energy storage that holds us back.
Now, researchers at Duke and Michigan State University have created a new type of supercapacitor that could change the game.
But for now, researchers are focused on something much simpler: wearable devices. One key is to make supercapacitors flexible. Conventional supercapacitors are hard and brittle; a stretchable version improves performance.
And that’s what the researchers have created. Their supercapacitor remains fully functional even when stretched eight times beyond its original size. It retained its energy performance after being charged and discharged 10,000 times. Fun fact: The carbon nanotube stretchable “forest” the researchers grew is the width of the smallest bacteria. Four of them together powered a two-volt Casio watch for an hour and a half.
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