press release
Published: 25 November 2020

MHRA registration approval for mobile rapid COVID-19 testing device

A new rapid COVID-19 testing device, developed by the University of Surrey, Brunel University London and Lancaster University, in collaboration with commercial partner Vidiia, is one step closer to being rolled out internationally, following official approval of its registration with The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). 

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The new COVID-19 testing device that uses LAMP (Loop-mediated isothermal amplification) technology, a single-tube technique for the amplification of DNA, can test up to 6 patients simultaneously using nasopharyngeal swab samples and provides results within 20 minutes.  State-of-the-art image processing algorithms, an artificial intelligence model, and a mobile app are integrated within the device to improve the accuracy of results, reduce testing times and remove subjectivity associated with operator interpretation.

The technology was originally designed using the skills of virologists, bacteriologists, veterinarians, and engineers to identify viral and bacterial pathogens in chickens in the Philippines. However, with the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus (the cause of COVID-19) the test was successfully adapted to test humans for the virus in a controlled, fast and accurate way.

Professor Max Lu, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey, said: “While the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated communities across the globe, it has also revealed humanity’s resilience and determination, particularly as exemplified by our universities who are at the forefront of research and innovation to find solutions. 

“I am proud that our collaboration with Brunel University London, Lancaster University and industrial partners on this rapid COVID-19 test technology has met with such success. Reaching this significant milestone means that this innovative technology will make a real impact in helping to defeat this virus."

David Rimer, CEO of Vidiia explained: “It’s a terribly important time for the company to ensure that we make the VH6 and test kit available as widely as possible and at speed. We have been working extremely hard with the universities to ensure that we launch a device and testing process that is highly accurate and stable – we are delighted that the MHRA approval of our registration has pushed us one step closer to this.”

Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Brunel University London, said: "We're delighted this pioneering project can now progress to the next phase towards speeding up COVID-19 testing at this critical time. Early results are very encouraging, and we are proud to work with Vidiia and with the Universities of Surrey and Lancaster to see how the test performs in different clinical settings and to understand where it might have the biggest impact on care."

Lancaster University Vice Chancellor Professor Andy Schofield said: “Rapid and accurate testing has never been more important in the fight against COVID-19. Lancaster University is proud to have contributed to this new diagnostic testing kit, using University research to create impact in the real world. The successful collaboration between all three Universities and Vidiia has produced promising results for a fast and accurate test.”

The team at Surrey involved in developing the test are: Professor Roberto La Ragione (School of Veterinary Medicine); Dr Anil Fernando (CVSSP); Dr Dan Horton (School of Veterinary Medicine); Dr Aurore Poirier (School of Veterinary Medicine); Dr Jai Mehat (School of Veterinary Medicine); Dr Nouman Chaudhry (CVSSP); Mr Mukunthan Tharmakulasingam (CVSSP), Dr Guido Cordoni (School of Veterinary Medicine); Professor Nicolas Locker (Bioscience), Miss Leona Takaindisa (School of Veterinary Medicine), Mr Jon Ridgeon (School of Veterinary Medicine) and Dr Anna Stedman (School of Veterinary Medicine).

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