Boohoo founders’ biotech firm launches Covid test with ‘result in 10 minutes’

A Manchester firm has launched a Covid test it says provides patients with results in just 10 minutes.

Medusa 19 says its “non-invasive” test only takes a sample of saliva to indicate a person’s immune response to SARS-CoV-2 – and is intended particularly for those who do not know if they have an active infection – and have no specific symptoms.

Medusa 19, which was set up by founder Boohoo shareholders Richard Hughes and Mahmud Kamani earlier this year, said the Rapid Saliva Protein Test is a “significant breakthrough” for the testing market.

Less intrusive than a blood sample, nasal or throat swab, it was developed in the UK and Spain, and indicates a user’s immune response to SARS-CoV-2.

The test indicates an immune response to current or recent infection, so alerts users if they should immediately self-isolate to stop the spread of the disease.

Independent clinical trials have produced 94% accuracy, and the firm said it was capable of making “up to 100m tests per month”.

Christian Stephenson, chief development officer at Medusa 19, said: “Testing for infection is pivotal to navigating the pandemic. The clinical evaluation showed the detection of an immune response to the virus could be detected in patients with no specific symptoms rapidly and accurately from a saliva sample which is a game-changer.

Mahmud Kamani at a Boohoo event in California in 2018
(Image: Getty Images for bohooo)

“By testing on a mass scale, outbreaks can be quickly pin-pointed and brought under control, therefore avoiding the imposition of strict blanket lockdowns.

“It could be a lifeline for businesses struggling to safely reopen, and we are working tirelessly to seek approval for use for the general public too.”

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Users provide a saliva sample into a collection tube, mixing it with a solution that isolates and solubilises the protein structure present in saliva.

The mixture is applied to a ‘lateral flow’ device, which migrates the saliva sample along the device. The test identifies antibodies unique to Covid-19, capturing them on test and control lines.

Andy White, MD at Medusa 19, added: “The Medusa 19 team has worked with extraordinary dedication to produce this unique test in a matter of months, alongside the necessary infrastructure and fulfilment capability and we are delighted with the clinical results.

“Global demand for a reliable and rapid test of this nature is expected to be in the billions of tests per annum, and therefore it is important that we are able to manufacture and distribute this test widely, both at home and overseas. The infrastructure behind the test means it can be produced on mass, and by investing in a wide roll-out of this unique test, businesses can take a vital step forward in getting back to work safely, in line with government guidance.”