iiCON’s lead partner, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine worked with Liverpool based MAST Group Ltd. to support the evaluation of their COVID-19 diagnostics products. MAST has developed a novel virus inactivation buffer to be used alongside their proprietary MAST ISOPLEX®SARS-CoV-2 kit, a molecular test for the qualitative detection of SARS-Cov-2 in upper respiratory specimens e.g., swab specimens from individuals displaying the symptoms of Covid-19. MAST accessed support to assess the assay and buffer performance using live virus.
The team at LSTM was able to demonstrate strong test performance which opens up opportunities for a further clinical evaluation of the technology. The MAST ISOPLEX system uses a loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) test. This is a simplified molecular test which offers a cheaper, quicker and portable way to detect COVID-19 when compared to currently used PCR technology. The test has the benefits of being widely accessible, similarly to the currently used lateral flow devices, whilst providing accuracy levels closer to those of PCR.
Howard Rose, R&D and Regulatory Director of Mast commented: “Mast developed a simple system for the detection of SARS-Cov-2 that offers a level of performance approaching that achieved by PCR, whilst generating results in a similar time achieved with lateral flow assays. LSTM offered the opportunity to evaluate the test in order to determine the level of performance achieved when using live virus. We were delighted with the level of professionalism experienced during this study; the technical and organisational support offered by LSTM was outstanding”.
Professor Janet Hemingway, Director of IICON at LSTM said: “This is another example of how our recognised expertise in infectious disease is being applied to benefit local industry”.
The activity was part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programme: Formulated Materials for Infectious Disease Prevention. This programme offers access to academic expertise to support innovation in Merseyside companies.