Japanese researchers from the Riken research institute and the University of Tokyo among others said they have developed a testing method for COVID-19 that provides results within five minutes, local media reported Tuesday.
The new method involves placing samples of the virus on a special glass plate that has been micro-formed with 1 million indentations per square centimeter, which serve as micro test chambers. Each micro-formed test chamber contains a reagent and when a sample contains the novel coronavirus’ ribonucleic acid (RNA) the chamber produces light.
Japan’s public broadcaster NHK said the tests differ from the standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests as the new rapid method does not require the coronavirus RNA to be amplified, as even a microscopic amount of the virus can be detected in the micro-formed test chambers.
The new approach means is unlike standard PCR tests that require one hour or more. Instead, COVID-19 test results using the new method and technology can be returned in less than five minutes, the researchers said.
One of the senior scientists at Riken, Rikiya Watanabe, was quoted by NHK as saying that the new method of virus detection does not necessitate the use of complicated procedures.
Watanabe said that once the new method is commercialized it could be utilized for quickly screening virus carriers at medical facilities.
The aim, according to the researchers, is for the rapid tests to be made commercially available within a few years.