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UCSF expert working to stop spread of deadly coronavirus

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SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — To help stop the spread, a UCSF doctor is working on a faster diagnostic test for the deadly coronavirus.

Dr. Charles Chiu said he’s working to create a simple test to diagnose the virus within two hours.

“The idea is that this would be a point of care test,” Chiu said. “It would be a test that you could use in the emergency department doctors office and even potentially at the airport during screening.”

The test would be administered through a nasal swab. 

The sample would then be put into a test tube and mixed with a reactant. 

Dr. Chiu said within two hours they would be able to process the sample and use something similar to a urine pregnancy test to determine whether someone has been infected..

“It’s really important that we be able to develop highly accurate tests that can potentially diagnose infection and really be able to screen patients so we can prevent the virus from spreading to others,” he said.

This project is a partnership between Dr. Chiu and San Francisco based mammoth bio-sciences. 

The latter has developed technology that has been used to rapidly detect other viruses like Zika. 

So far, the difficulty with this new testing has been getting actual samples of the virus.

“To really be able to ensure that the test is accurate what we call clinically validate or do an analytical validation of the tests, we really need access to samples,” Chiu said. “But we hope to actually have the tests in principal up and running within a matter of weeks.”

Right now, his lab is using a synthetic virus which serves as a surrogate for not having an actual sample.

Eventually, Chiu said they would need clinical samples for the test but they can at least get an initial indication from the synthetic material.

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