FREDERICTON, NB, Jan. 11, 2022 – LuminUltra has been awarded funding to develop a next generation rapid-result portable detection device for SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater.
The funding stems from a challenge issued jointly by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) through the federal government’s Innovation Solutions Canada (ISC) program. Under the challenge, Canadian small and medium-sized businesses have been asked to develop a rapid-result field portable SARS-CoV-2 wastewater detection device that incorporates sampling, analysis, data storage and data transmission.
“The ambitious project takes something that currently is comprised of many individual steps conducted by trained technicians and reduces it to something anyone could do across Canada with minimal training,” said Jordan Schmidt, Ph.D, director of product applications at LuminUltra.
“There are no technologies on the market capable of doing this testing in wastewater – it’s a true game changer that opens up the possibility of testing for COVID-19 in wastewater throughout Canada – including remote communities that are often at the highest risk of COVID-19 due to limited access to health-care resources.”
Schmidt said the challenge to develop more accessible testing solutions that provide faster results was appealing to LuminUltra.
“We embraced this ISC challenge because what sets LuminUltra apart is our ability to deliver fast, reliable results through on-site testing. The development of a portable device that does everything from testing to analysis is the next step in the evolution of COVID-19 wastewater testing, and we’re excited to be leading the way.”
LuminUltra will receive funding of up to $150,000 under Phase 1 of this ISC challenge to create a proof of concept device.
While LuminUltra has been an established global leader in wastewater testing for over 25 years, this new technology is a significant advancement for COVID-19 wastewater testing and is part of the company’s commitment to produce solutions that are faster and more accessible
Evolution of wastewater testing
Earlier this year, LuminUltra partnered with Dalhousie University to create the world’s first rapid-on-site wastewater testing solution to detect the virus that causes COVID-19.
In July, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention began using LuminUltra’s qPCR COVID-19 wastewater testing solution as part of a pilot project in U.S. correctional facilities, partnering with the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and Hach, a global leader in water analysis. While traditional lab-based testing takes days or weeks to return results, LuminUltra’s wastewater testing can be done on site in hours and identify the virus up to seven days before symptoms appear, which is crucial in limiting the spread.
The pilot began in the State of Oklahoma, which began using the testing solution at five correctional facilities to enable them to identify potential outbreaks and take action to limit the spread of the virus. The pilot will expand to 20 facilities across the United States, as more states are expected to join in the coming weeks and months.
Distributed workflow solution
LuminUltra’s COVID-19 testing solutions are also being used to quickly and easily set up labs around the world – be they on site or centralized.
LuminUltra’s development partner Dalhousie University has set up satellite laboratories at various affiliated regional universities to test for COVID-19 in community and student dormitory wastewater.
More to come
Schmidt said the development of a portable wastewater testing device under the ISC challenge is just one of the improvements LuminUltra has been working on, with improved sensitivity and a new sample collection solution that will be released later this year as COVID-19 infection rates decrease.
John McNeil, Public Relations Manager
LuminUltra is a biotechnology leader with expertise developing tests and reagents for environmental, industrial, and clinical diagnostic monitoring. Customers around the world rely on its technology and production reliability. LuminUltra is on an accelerated growth path, acquiring multiple companies in recent years and forming a vital partnership with private equity firm XPV Water Partners.