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Oceanit Develops Coronavirus Test For Rapid Results

Casey Harlow / HPR
Mass coronavirus testing at Kalakaua District Park in Kalihi on Thursday, August 27, 2020

Several local companies, hospitals and schools are part of the effort to fight the spread of COVID-19. One technology company that’s deeply involved is Oceanit. 

Building on biotech it had been developing to treat cancer and target tissues in the immune system, Hawaii-based Oceanit Laboratories has developed what it intendeds to be an affordable, non-invasive and instant test for the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. It’s called ASSURE-19, which stands Accelerated Sensor Solution for Urgent Response to Epidemics.

Oceanit found support for its test earlier this summer from the National Institutes of Health’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics initiative, which aims to accelerate development and production of Covid-19 tests. It then partnered with the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine, for access to search strains of the virus. Now it has started human trials in conjunction with The Queen’s Medical Center, which is administering both the current swab test and the ASSURE test and comparing results for accuracy.

Dr. Todd Seto, director of academic affairs and research at Queens, is overseeing that. He tells PBN that

“People throw out the word ‘game changer’ loosely, but this will really be a game changer if we can prove it works. It’s convenient for patients and medical staff, and the implication for more [testing] in the community is huge.”

All the test will require is some spit and 10 minutes of your time for a result, using nano particles of gold to identify proteins in saliva associated with Covid-19. If proven, this nearly instantaneous test could be administered anywhere and could be the solution the state is looking for to reopen tourism. Oceanit founder and CEO Patrick Sullivan, says if it goes on to receive FDA approval, he intends to manufacture some of the tests here in Hawaii.

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