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CASPR Biotech developed a prototype to quickly diagnose coronavirus

Don't worry, we speak : Español (Spanish), too!

Contxto – The topic that’s been making global headlines as of late is undeniable: coronavirus. And governments, international organizations, corporations, and yes, even startups, are scrambling to find ways to control the spread of this epidemic.

One such startup is CASPR Biotech from Argentina.

And the startup recently stated that it’s developed a prototype of its molecular diagnosis kit to identify pathogen 2019-nCOv. Aka, the new coronavirus everyone’s talking about.

According to the biotech, it can diagnose the virus quickly, even if the person hasn’t shown symptoms and at a very low cost.

Related article: CASPR Biotech could become the Mercado Libre of molecular diagnostics

The current take on tackling coronavirus

Screening for potential patients infected with the virus is currently based on the showing of symptoms. Usually, those related to the common cold: fever, coughing, and respiratory issues.

And CASPR points out this is a faulty approach to the problem for two reasons.

First, because that means people must wait until symptoms show to do something about it. That ignores the reality that the virus can remain “dormant” during the gestation period in which no symptoms are shown.

And second, that strategy also forces patients who are actually healthy into quarantine for extended periods of time.

Molecular diagnosis for pinpointing the coronavirus

In light of these issues, CASPR states that the kit it’s developed can identify the pathogen even before it shows its ugly symptoms through molecular diagnosis via CRISPR-Cas9 technology.

I know, lots of (literally) big words.

CRISPR-Cas9 consists of a combo of special DNA strands (that’s the CRISPR-bit) and a protein called “Cas9.” This protein works as a pair of scissors at a molecular level that can cut away DNA strands.

As we’ve discussed before, CASPR uses these “scissors” to identify particular DNA sequences related to infectious diseases or genetic mutations. In this case, the biotech configures its kit to identify the coronavirus at a molecular level. So it can more precisely identify the pathogen even if there are no symptoms.

In recent correspondence with Franco Goytia, CASPR‘s CEO, he stated that the process of “reconfiguring” their product took around two weeks.

The kit itself works basically like a pregnancy test stick. 

A person just needs to provide a fluid sample (blood, urine, or a nasal swab) and in less than an hour, it will display a little black line for a positive diagnosis, and nothing for a negative result.

Its low-cost is also worth noting: US$2.

The next step for their diagnostics kit prototype is to run clinical trials with human beings as well as further reach out to parties in Asia.

Goytia also mentioned the importance of making the kit more seamless in its use as “there are still some manual steps to read what’s on the strip of the lateral flow test.”

Meaning, to read whether it’s a positive or negative result with the kit, some extra efforts are needed. So it’s currently less practical than your generic pregnancy test stick. But it appears the CASPR Biotech team is working on it.

Rumors of World War III between the US and Iran, Kobe Bryant’s sudden passing, an epidemic.

2020 has been one heck of a year—and it’s only February?!

Related articles: Tech and startups in Argentina!

-ML

Mariana López
My topic darlings are startup management, edtech, and all-things pop culture. J Balvin is Latin America's best reggaetonero and I dare you to convince me otherwise.

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