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Coronavirus testing time to shorten from 6 hours to 20 minutes: DGIST

South Korean scientists in Daegu have developed a diagnostic kit that will cut down the COVID-19 testing time from previous six hours to 20 minutes.

This diagnostic agent has been transferred to a diagnostic kit maker called Mmonitor, whose website crashed due to heavy traffic as of 11 a.m., Thursday, upon the announcement by Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology.

According to DGIST, its new diagnostic agent makes it possible to amplify genetic information of the coronavirus at a constant 60 degrees Celsius, drastically cutting the time from conventional real-time PCR method.

When RT-PCR test kits amplify the genes to test virus infection, the machinery cranks up temperature to 90 degrees Celsius, then lowers it to 60 degrees, and repeats for 40 times.

During the processing time, a patient must wait four to six hours to learn the result. The machinery requires some 50 million won ($41,000) investment.

As DGIST’s technology requires no expensive temperature maintenance, new devices that must accompany the kit will cost less than 1 million won ($822), the university research center said.

This breakthrough achievement was enabled based on a memorandum of understanding formed between DGIST and Mmonitor in 2018 to collaborate on diagnostic devices and kits development.

Mmonitor recently signed a deal with GC Pharma MS for expedited exports of its Isopollo COVID-19 kits.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (