(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indiana University researchers are awaiting federal approval for a new coronavirus test they say is dramatically faster.
The current test for coronavirus is similar to DNA testing: technicians copy a sample over and over to make the genetic pattern big enough to look for the virus’s key markers. Bioinformatics professor Sarath Janga says the IU approach is the genetic equivalent of facial recognition software: technicians are comparing samples against the virus’s entire genetic signature.
Janga says the signature approach is not only more accurate but has more capacity. He says technicians can test dozens of samples at once instead of one at a time. Their goal is to be able to test 100 samples in eight-to-12 hours.
Janga says the test would also bring quicker results because it doesn’t have to be shipped off to a
separate lab, eliminating hours or days of turnaround time.
State health commissioner Kristina Box has pointed to wider and faster testing as a key component in emerging from the three-week-old statewide lockdown and getting back to normal life.
Janga says the test is already being used within the IU Health system, but wider use requires Food and Drug Administration approval.