Business / Corporate

Japan drugmaker to tie up with universities to develop new test method for coronavirus

Jiji

Japanese pharmaceutical company Shionogi & Co. said Monday that it will collaborate with universities in the country to put into practical use a new testing method for the novel coronavirus.

The new method, called signal amplification by ternary initiation complexes (SATIC), may significantly boost Japan’s testing capacity ahead of an expected second wave of coronavirus infections.

The SATIC method, jointly developed by Nihon University, Gunma University and Tokyo Medical University, can detect the virus from saliva samples in around 25 minutes.

In the method, saliva samples are heated to 95 degrees for roughly two minutes and added to a reagent. Samples containing the virus will change color, making it possible to check the results without the use of a detector device.

The method has a high sensitivity equivalent to that of polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests, according to Shionogi.

Shionogi will seek swiftly to gain government approval for the method, and it plans to achieve mass production so that kits can be distributed to medical institutions.

There is hope that the new method will make coronavirus tests more affordable and widely available, as saliva tests are covered by public health insurance.

The technology comes as Japan gears up to resume full-fledged economic activities and ease travel restrictions. It is also expected to be used for screening visitors from overseas.

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