Arizona research center developing test to rapidly identify coronavirus

Feb 5, 2020, 6:30 PM | Updated: Feb 7, 2020, 10:42 am

(AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)...

(AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

(AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

PHOENIX — Researchers with the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Flagstaff are developing a test to help quickly identify coronavirus in potentially infected individuals.

Currently there is only one test for coronavirus in the United States and it was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Dr. David Engelthaler, co-director of TGen North’s infectious disease division.

“We’re going to be able to develop a similar type of rapid test but we can look throughout the entirety of the genetic material to not only say absolutely it’s this exact strain and whether it’s changing,” Engelthaler told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday. “It will give information for both doctors and public health officials who are tracking this outbreak.”

Engelthaler said the institute is using next generation DNA sequence technology that will give results quickly.

It would help affected patients get treatment in short order and give health professionals a better understanding of the illness.

TGen is working with the Food and Drug Administration with the hope of fast-tracking the test into the hands of doctors, Engelthaler said.

“TGen has the ability to use next generation science and technology to rapidly develop tests and other technology to respond to any infection disease outbreak,” Engelthaler said.

Coronavirus has affected more than 24,500 and the death toll climbed to 491, with the overwhelming majority of cases in China.

Only a handful of cases have been in the United States, including one in Arizona at Arizona State University.

No deaths from coronavirus have been reported in the U.S.

“It would be great if all of this could just go sit on a shelf and not be used because the epidemic didn’t get large enough,” Engelthaler said. “But if it does, hopefully we will have tests that will be ready to make an impact right away.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Peter Samore contributed to this report.

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Arizona research center developing test to rapidly identify coronavirus