Prof. Pia Marie Albano, Asst. Prof. Nikki Heherson Dagamac, Asst. Prof. Maureen Sabit and Mr. Reuel Bennett (Photos grabbed from UST website)

RESEARCHERS from UST have been tapped to validate a newly developed Covid-19 test kit that would cut down costs and turnaround time for results.

The quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) kits developed by MiRXES Pte Ltd, a biotech company from Singapore, eliminate the need for RNA extraction, a time-consuming step most PCR machines undergo before detecting the virus, said Prof. Pia Marie Albano, the lead proponent of the trial. 

“The kits can be used to detect SARS-CoV-2 in either nasopharyngeal or saliva samples which would [also] cut down the cost since patients can self-collect their samples and there will be no need for swabbers,” she told the Varsitarian.

Positive samples can also be further tested for mutations or new variants, she said. 

“What interests us as well is testing the positive samples for the mutations. We have qPCR-based kits that can identify the variants of concern,” she said.  

The team collaborated with Singapore Diagnostics in Makati to conduct trials on at least a thousand participants from both clinical and community settings. 

After the kits pass the validation tests, they can be used as a cheaper alternative in gene sequencing to track mutations, especially those that show resistance to the vaccines.

“Once we have the data, we write our report and MiRXES will apply for FDA approval [and] once registered, the kits can be distributed to India and SEA,” Albano said. 

Albano is joined by Asst. Prof. Nikki Heherson Dagamac, Asst. Prof. Maureen Sabit, and Reuel Bennett from the UST Department of Biological Sciences. Caitlin Dayne A. Contreras and L.M.T.B. Padillo 


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