Purdue Researchers Develop Potential COVID-19 At-Home Test

Jul 3, 2020

Purdue University is located in West Lafayette. (Samantha Horton/IPB News)

Purdue University researchers developed a new COVID-19 test that could be more affordable and time efficient. The test will first be used by health care providers before then offering it to consumers for use at home.

Most COVID-19 tests use nasal swabs that have to be stuck far up the patient's nose and can take days to receive results.

Purdue University agriculture professor Mohit Verma, along with eight students, adapted a test to check cattle for Bovine Respiratory Disease. The test uses saliva to detect the virus with a portable heating device that changes color to show a diagnosis in 45 minutes.

Verma says there are advantages to what he and his team developed over current ones.

“So, we’re using these paper-based devices, which means we put all the agents that are needed for this test onto a paper device so that it can be fabricated on a large scale in a reasonable; cost effective manner,” said Verma. “And also, in the end it provides a color change so that way you're able to see it visually whether it’s positive or negative.”

While he’s unsure how much the test will cost, Verma said the materials used to make it are relatively inexpensive.

“At least at the cost of making it, all of the materials and so on it’s pretty cheap; it’s less than $10 per test,” he said. “But in the end with the capital investment that will go into it to actually manufacture and all of those, those will be built into the cost and I don’t know what that final number will be. It will depend on who ends up selling the test as well.”

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Verma says the test will be submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval.

Several companies have partnered with Purdue to make and distribute the new test with the goal to have medical professionals using them in August.

Contact reporter Samantha at shorton@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @SamHorton5.