New ultra-fast Belgian PCR tests


A Belgian company is revolutionising the way Covid-19 is detected by marketing a process that is 20 times faster than conventional PCR tests. Test results in 15 minutes!

The pilot phase of this revolutionary PCR test has just been launched at Brussels Airport. If they wish, the hundreds of travellers who come to the coronavirus testing centre every day can now take the test to validate its effectiveness on a large scale. This is an essential step towards its final certification in a few months' time.

This technological innovation is the work of miDiagnostics, a spin-off of IMEC, the Flemish Interuniversity Research Institute for Microelectronics and Nanotechnology.

Based on a nasal swab sample, "this ultra-fast result is possible thanks to the minimisation of the analysis process on a microchip developed by IMEC. The temperature cycles required for DNA replication can be performed on this chip up to 20 times faster than in a conventional PCR test," say the two Leuven companies. In practical terms, this new test provides a result in 15 minutes, as opposed to three hours for a conventional PCR test. "This is the first time we have gone this far in developing our chip technology into a commercial solution," says Luc Van den hove, CEO of the IMEC research centre.

Once accredited, this innovation in testing is likely to have global reach.