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Smartphone-Powered, Saliva-Based COVID-19 Diagnostic Test Delivers Lab-Quality Results to App in 20 Minutes

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 18 Jun 2020
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A portable, saliva-based COVID-19 diagnostic test will be able to detect COVID-19 infection in less than 20 minutes, with an easy-to-use device that can be employed in a variety of settings.

The COVID-19 diagnostic test called Atlas is being developed by Nicoya (Ontario, Canada) with funding from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP). Nicoya will receive up to USD 299,190 in funding to develop the portable COVID-19 diagnostic test that will expand testing capabilities in centralized settings (such as hospital and testing laboratories) as well as point-of-care settings (such as local clinics and long-term care homes).

The development of an Atlas prototype is currently underway at Nicoya. The company is leveraging its deep expertise in areas such as nanotechnology, microfluidics and biochemistry to develop Atlas as a viable solution for containing COVID-19 and preventing the spread of future viral diseases. Atlas will be a single-use, disposable device that will detect active infection by testing for SARS-CoV-2 viral proteins. To make the test as accessible as possible, Nicoya is powering it with smartphone technology so that it can deliver lab-quality results to an app in less than 20 minutes. The test will be performed with a saliva sample, rather than the more common nasopharyngeal swab samples. With Atlas, Nicoya hopes to make testing more available everywhere, from remote communities to front-line screening procedures.

“Our government is mobilizing resources to combat COVID-19 and I’m proud that Nicoya was one of four Phase I funding recipients of the Point-of-Care Diagnostic Test Kit Challenge,” said Raj Saini, Member of Parliament for Kitchener Centre. “Nicoya is an exemplary company already working hard on pioneering innovative research and finding solutions together, and this approach is a pillar to ensuring we have both short and long-term solutions to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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