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Created a single test for viruses and variants, results in less than an hour


The innovative diagnosis kit was created by a spin-off of the University of Bologna. Industrial Partner is a Wuhan company. It will be marketed by an English company. For now it works with the English and South African & Brazilian variants, but it will be possible to adapt it to others as well

AGI One test and less than sixty minutes to 'flush out' the English and South African variants of Covid. The innovative kit, from which the AGI learns, for the diagnosis of variants through the molecular swab - the so-called PCR technology - was developed by “Oncology and Cytogenetic Products - OaCP”, a spin-off company of the University of Bologna. The 'minds' of the 'made in Italy' discovery are, in fact, two former students of the Alma Mater, the startupper Enrico Di Oto and the researcher Simone Di Giacomo. The industrial partner is a Chinese company based in Wuhan, the symbolic city of Covid-19 where the first outbreak in the world broke out.

This is the 'Wuhan Biotech' company specializing in the development of products for molecular biology. Finally, the commercial aspect is handled by an English company, Crosstrak LTD. A triangle synergy - Italy, China, UK - which could add an important step to the fight against Covid . The virus 'bites', the variants run and rapid screening becomes one of the keys to stemming the pandemic. The kit is CE marked and has already been registered in the database of the Italian Ministry of Health. The super 'hunter' of variants is therefore ready to be placed on the market.

The first molecular tests will be done in Sicily

The first molecular tests with the new technology will be carried out in Sicily, in the Regional Laboratory Quality Center (Crq) directed by Professor Francesca Di Gaudio. And negotiations are also underway with other bodies, governmental and non-governmental, in Italy and abroad. “The kit is suitable for any type of laboratory, even small ones, and is compatible with the most common instruments, without requiring additional investments. The validation studies carried out on samples with known quantities of viral material have shown a sensitivity close to 100 percent”, explains Di Oto, managing director of OaCP interviewed by the AGI.

In a nutshell, the innovation consists in having developed a mixture of reagents that makes it possible to identify in less than an hour and in a single test the possible variant and the common 'strain' of Covid. Currently, the times for diagnosing variants are longer because they include two steps. How does the test work in practice? “The patient - explains Di Oto - is subjected to sampling with a nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab. The material is sent to the laboratory which carries out the extraction of the viral genome. The sample thus processed is combined with the reagents contained in our kit, one tube per patient, and inserted into the PCR machine. Then in less than an hour you will have the result by discovering the possible presence of the common Covid, the English or South African variant ".

A company specializing in oncology that has converted

Founded at the end of June 2017 after being 'conceived' in various business incubators in Italy, Silicon Valley, Ireland, the company 'Oncology and Cytogenetic Products', contains in the name its short but intense story that started, precisely, from the sector of cancer diagnosis. Then came the pandemic "with the slowdown in oncology diagnostics, which was our first business, we changed our target". And last year, thanks to the synergy with Crosstrak LTD, a company that distributes, to governments and individuals, products for the fight against Covid "we entered the Invitalia call - explained the manager - and we provided the Sicily region with kits for molecular swabs ". Finally, the Covid variants were the company's latest landing.

"Fundamental for the birth of the new kit - concludes the manager - was the collaboration with 'Wuhan Healthcare Biotech' born thanks to the participation, in 2019, in the Global Start-Up program, financed by the Ministry of Economic Development with the support of Ice”. Meanwhile, the startupper's gaze goes beyond the single product. "Thanks to this kit - concluded Di Oto - we have a platform that will allow rapid development of solutions for the diagnosis of other new variants of Covid which, unfortunately, could appear".

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