National / Science & Health

Tosoh working on chemical reagent that could slash COVID-19 detection times


Chemical maker Tosoh Corp. said it has begun developing a reagent that can detect the new coronavirus in less than 50 minutes, slashing the six-hour waiting time required by current test kits.

While it usually takes about two years to commercialize an agent, Tokyo-based Tosoh said Friday it will work with the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry to speed up development while making use of its expertise in developing testing agents for tuberculosis.

The Cabinet last week approved ¥10.3 billion for emergency steps against the contagion, known as COVID-19, and is promoting the development of quick testing kits.

Other companies are doing the same or increasing production as the pneumonia-causing coronavirus spreads.

Fujifilm Wako Pure Chemical Corp., a subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings Corp., said Thursday it is developing a new reagent for use in the polymerase chain reaction test — a method that can detect the virus with a high accuracy.

In the meantime, Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG and Japan’s Takara Bio Inc. are ramping up output of detection reagents.

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