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Hubbard-based NanoLogix creates rapid COVID-19 test

HUBBARD — A local biotech company that developed a faster, more efficient test to detect the Ebola virus during that epidemic in West Africa has created a customized test to screen for COVID-19 as the pandemic continues to grip the globe.

Hubbard-based NanoLogix completed testing of novel coronavirus detection technology that reduces the detection time from three to five days to less than one hour.

The company plans to apply for a patent this week on the technology that can be configured for point-of-care use in doctors’ offices and also for individual use, said Bret Barnhizer, president and CEO of NanoLogix.

The test is an expansion of the company’s N-ASSAY diagnostic test that has been used to detect bacterial infections. It was the Ebola virus wave in 2014 that caused the company to consider the test, and reconfigure it, for viral infections — now applicable for COVID-19.

The idea came to Barnhizer for point-of-care application in early April while speaking with a doctor on a television network who does nationwide medical commentary. He didn’t say who or which network.

The doctor asked if the test could be used in a physician’s office. The answer then was no, but it sprung an idea, causing Barnhizer to reach out to colleagues — Jonathan Faro, a doctor in Houston and NanoLogix’s medical director, and a scientist in Cleveland, James Rogers, now NanoLogix’s chief science officer — to discuss what Barnhizer had thought up.

“Both thought that it might work,” Barnhizer said.

“When we got all of the material together … (we) configured it last week and did the experiments. We were actually stunned at the results,” Barnhizer said.

The test provides rapid, accurate and sensitive detection and identification of the virus using the antibody for COVID-19, looking for and registering attributes of the virus’ protein.

“It looks for the spiked protein, which is the equivalent of the virus in the sample,” Barnhizer said. “That is the same thing we did with our Ebola test prototype.”

Some consideration already is being given to different configurations of the test, including potential treatment.

Although the test was developed at the company’s facility on North Main Street, the facility doesn’t have the scale to manufacture the test. To bring the test to market, Barnhizer said, he sees a company licensing his company’s technology.

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