Colm Ryan and Seán Mac Fhearraigh say their new test could deliver results in 15 minutes
Two Irish PhDs, Colm Ryan and Seán Mac Fhearraigh, have developed new coronavirus testing kits that reportedly cut results time from a matter of hours to minutes.
The duo, who both met in 2012 while undergraduates studying genetics at Trinity College Dublin, are the cofounders of Reagent Genie, a life science reagents company with over 67,000 products across 3 premium brands: Assay Genie, ELISA Genie, and Antibody Genie.
The Irish men are now testing their new rapid test under their brand Assay Genie. A description of the new test says: “The Assay Genie COVID-19 Rapid POC (Point-of-Care) kit is rapid test that qualitatively detects severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
“Using a rapid COVID-19 test provides an opportunity to identify more individuals who are unaware they have been infected.”
On March 13, Mac Fhearraigh said in a string of tweets: “We are currently working on a test that will allow front line staff to test for COVID-19 in 15 mins using 10uL of blood.
"We hope this assay can result in patients being effectively triaged and reduce the risk to front line staff.
“In the next few days, we will have 100 assays that we are looking to provide to a testing lab to help validate our data and ensure that accuracy can be met before we roll out on scale."
Mac Fhearraigh, who appealed for people with connections at Ireland’s HSE to reach out, added: “In the next 10 days we should have 5000 tests in Ireland that can we roll out once we have successfully completed initial testing that can be provided to GPs, Paramedics, etc that we hope can save lives.”
The following day, Mac Fhearraigh tweeted that there was a great reaction to his and Ryan's new product:
A huge thanks to everyone yesterday for the likes/RTs 💪, from this we had 3 labs reach out to work with us in Ireland 🇮🇪 & one in Scotland 🏴, also chatting to the right people a bit higher up, amazing the power of this platform! Thanks again 🙌— Seán Mac Fhearraigh (@MacFhearraigh) March 14, 2020
Ryan tweeted on March 14 that they will be making test kits available for free to Irish hospitals in the coming days:
We will have 15 Minute Rapid Tests for #COVID19 freely available for some Irish hospitals in the next 10 days. Only 1 drop of blood and results determined by eye. Please DM and RT to relevant contacts. @ciaraKellydoc @PatKennyNT @TodaySORhttps://t.co/udlQe8oBxG— Colm Ryan (@TheRealColmRyan) March 14, 2020
Ryan told the Irish Independent: “We were working on this as soon as we found out about coronavirus, as we have contacts in China. We were ahead of the curve, due to that.
"So we worked with a partner to develop the kit to bring it to market and it's CE certified for diagnostic use in Ireland.
Ryan added: "We need to come together to fight this battle. It's similar to going through a war but we will stay together and get through it and unite."
Ryan says he is a supporter of mass testing and that rapid tests should be accessible to anyone who wants or needs them. He added that there has been great interest from frontline staff, especially pharmacies.
"We need a quick way of responding to this virus,” Ryan said. "There's a global shortage of raw materials for the test kits being used currently.
"And I think some people don't realise the mammoth task involved in testing.”