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Japan firm developing fast test for 18-minute simultaneous coronavirus, flu diagnosis

Professor Yasuo Suda from Kagoshima University is seen explaining the new PCR testing equipment that can check for infections from the new coronavirus and influenza A and B, in Kanazawa on Sept. 7, 2020. (Mainichi/Hitoshi Sonobe)

OSAKA -- A new, super-fast polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that can simultaneously identify new coronavirus and influenza A and B infections from a single saliva sample in 18 minutes or faster will go on sale as early as at the end of 2020, a machinery manufacturer in central Japan said on Sept. 7.

    Until now, the PCR tests have taken around 2 hours to deliver results. But in addition to the new coronavirus, the new test will be able to provide simultaneous positive or negative diagnosis for influenza A and B. Shibuya Corp., which is based in the central Japan city of Kanazawa and is developing the new product, specializes in liquid filling machines and other equipment. The company says it will help efforts to manage the expected spread of both influenza and the coronavirus from fall onward.

    According to the company and its development partner, Kagoshima University venture SUDx-Biotec Corp., the method reduces labor around processes including centrifugation, in which particles are separated based on size, shape and density from one another in a given solution, and uses high-spec equipment to create temperatures in which the virus can multiply easily. It's hoped that it will also reduce the rates of false-positive diagnoses.

    The companies intend within the year to submit the test to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare as a medical device, and expect to sell hundreds of the devices to medical facilities in fiscal 2020. Both firms say the test is the first in the world that can simultaneously identify three viruses from saliva samples.

    (Japanese original by Hitoshi Sonobe, Osaka Regional News Department)

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