BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 keeps being hampered by the fact that COVID-19 tests take days to come back from a lab. But one Branford company has a device that can deliver an accurate reading in just a few minutes.
Tangen Biosciences opened up in 2013 to make a small, easy-to-use medical testing device. Originally they were testing for tuberculosis.
“With the COVID disaster, we developed a COVID assay that allows us to bring the power out of the lab and into the community,” said Tangen Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer John Davidson.
Switching to a COVID test was relatively easy to do because of how the device is designed.
“We use a little disk in our instrument. That disk has 32 wells on the perimeter of it,” explained Tangen CEO Rick Birkmeyer. “We can actually look for 32 different things.”
The big problem with most COVID-19 tests right now is that samples are sent to labs overwhelmed with volume. While the test does not take long, handling, sorting, and paperwork does.
“We were very laser-focused on producing a test that had very, very simple user steps so that it could be taken out of the complex environment of the lab and used by practically anyone,” Davidson said.
It does require that somewhat uncomfortable swab up the nose, but after that, you can get the result in 30 minutes.
“You can get the result whether you’re on a Navy ship, a nursing home, or in one of the small, rural towns,” said Birkmeyer.
Very soon, cold and flu season will be here. Since the TangenDX has that disk with 32 wells, it can expand to help with what will soon be an important distinction.
We’re going to include influenza A and B viruses which are, in their own right, very serious infections,” Davidson explained. “You need to distinguish those from COVID, particularly in the coming flu season.”
Tangen is also partnering with a medical information company which, Birkmeyer says, “enables that result to be disseminated to the state laboratory, allows it to be disseminated to the patient’s doctor.”
So the device would let experts track the spread of the disease. The plan is to keep adding tests to that disk in the future “so that you can really do a comprehensive evaluation of what that person has with a single swab,” explained Birkmeyer.
With the device currently in clinical trials, that means it could be available to the public before Halloween.