How ams spectral sensing technology innovation enables improved methods of rapid testing for coronavirus infection in point-of-care situations

We are in the middle of a global pandemic. In addition to social distancing, reliable and fast testing is an important way to help life return to normal as fast as possible. This will be the basis of knowing who has the Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) virus now, has had it in the past, and a potential indication as to if a person is potentially immune from further infection. The goal is to help all of us live, work, and fully re-join society.

And – wherever you live in the world – we all need testing to be widespread, affordable, and fast. We need testing which is easy to administer, read, and understand the results. Establishing reliable test and testing procedures as part of a national or even international monitoring system is a critical early step to getting back to ‘normal’ life.

In the spring, ams invited companies to discuss how we could help them to increase the reliability of lateral flow tests for Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) and other applications – and continue to recruit new partners and customers in this field. Together with Senova and Jabil, we will bring to market a disposable, electronic lateral flow test that can be used in testing for immunity against this virus based on antibody detection.

Based in Germany, Senova specializes in Lateral Flow Assay technology to produce rapid test systems for in vitro diagnostics and the establishment of new rapid tests for labelling biomarkers, viruses, and microorganisms in human, veterinary and environmental samples.

To reach manufacturing scale in an accelerated timeframe, we have decided to partner with Jabil Healthcare, a leading healthcare manufacturing solutions provider, to integrate our sensor technology into a high-volume turnkey module, featuring a Bluetooth connection.

Combining our strengths to deliver reliable results fast

ams and Senova are therefore partnering to combine ams’ read-out technology based on the AS7341L spectral sensor with Senova’s lateral-flow-test capabilities. The aim: to improve performance and usability of a lateral-flow-based test to detect Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) virus antibodies.

In fact, recent experiments have proven the feasibility of a highly accurate digital antibody test for this application in combination with Senova's commercially-available serological IgG/M Covid-19 assay (Cleartest ®) which is used for confirmatory diagnostics in a later stage of the disease and in large-scale antibody screening programs. As a performance reference for the sensor the tests proved feasibility of quantitative detection of serum proteins (such as C-reactive protein (CRP) down to concentrations as low as tens of pg/ml (picograms/ml). In combination with Covid-19 antigen assays, this provides the platform for detection of the virus in saliva and nasal swab samples in the early stage of Covid-19, to be developed in a second step.

By using lateral flow technology integrated with spectral sensors, future devices will provide a read-out that is accurate, cost effective, quantitative, and provides an objective result which requires no user interpretation. In contrast to the established PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) method, the test kit can be applied in doctor’s offices and other point-of-care situations at low cost.

Point-of-care solution: giving people & nations the accurate data they require without the need for remote laboratories

By providing the market with a device that is highly accurate, disposable and low cost, ams aims to more quickly enable authorities, health providers, and other care facilities to realize much needed antibody testing at the point-of-care, eliminating the time-consuming need to send antibody test strips to a remote laboratory. ams, Senova, and Jabil are expected to ramp production of a CE medical-certified, disposable test kit for professional use by September 2020, and ams will aim to provide a device certified for home use in a following step.

Innovative sensor technology for a better lifestyle

Our innovation through miniaturized and cost-effective spectral sensor technology is more valuable than ever for healthcare applications. Enabling rapid test devices to detect colorimetric and fluorescence information through a tiny, yet powerful, optical sensor supports wide-spread testing for viruses and antibodies at disposable cost levels. With this technology, we are contributing to fighting this global pandemic.