Calgary tech teams with academia in attempt to create COVID-19 diagnostic test
FluroTech and Alberta BioPhotonics partner with Albany Medical College for the potential development of assistive device
A joint effort between a medical technology developer, a health sciences software firm and a leading medical college are in the early stages of combining their strengths to create a device that can test for COVID-19. Calgary-based FluroTech Ltd. has entered into a strategic agreement in principle with Alberta BioPhotonics Inc., Calgary, and Albany Medical College in Albany NY, to form FluroTest LLC.
FluroTech’s CompleTest adaptation is expected to take approximately three months with trials planned shortly thereafter. The coalition cautions that FluroTest is taking the existing technology developed by FluroTech and adapting that technology to be able to test for COVID-19. The group remain in the early stages of research and development and are not making any express or implied claims that it can accurately diagnose COVID-19 virus at this time. FluroTech and ABP are majority shareholders in FluroTest.
The collaboration will have primary focus on adapting FluroTech’s CompleTest platform technology to test for a range of viruses including COVID-19, as well as accurately determining viral load. Additionally, FluroTest believes its technology can also be adapted to allow for the detection of specific anti-SARS-CoV-2 human antibodies in blood samples, potentially confirming the development of immunity. Once developed, both tests would be administered at point-of-collection with results expected to be available in less than 15 minutes.
FluroTest’s technology development efforts require unique expertise in spectroscopy and fluorescence as well as immunology and virology. This initiative is a collaborative effort between U.S. and Canadian scientists with deep experience in their respective fields.
For immunology and virology expertise, FluroTest has partnered with Albany Medical College’s immunology and microbial disease department. AMC is located in the State of New York. The Department’s research team is led by Dennis Metzger, Ph.D., professor and chair of the department, along with assistant professor Kouacou Konan, Ph.D., who is working with FluroTech to develop the technology. Dr. Konan’s research program concentrates on virus detection and the mechanisms responsible for viral disease pathogenesis. The program is supported by a Biosafety Level 3 laboratory that allows for the use of highly virulent pathogens and is one of the few such facilities in the state of New York. Dr. Konan has obtained approval for COVID-19 work in his Level-3 laboratory. As part of Albany Medical Center, the only academic medical center and Level 1 Trauma Center serving northeastern New York and western New England, Albany Medical College is in a unique position to begin large scale sample collection and clinical trials which will assist in obtaining regulatory approvals including FDA approval. “My colleagues and I look forward to collaborating with Dr. Elmar Prenner and the fluorescence spectroscopy laboratory at the University of Calgary,” noted Dr. Konan. “This initiative enriches our mission of patient care, research and education—three critical factors to address this difficult viral problem for the people we serve.”
FluroTech’s fluorescence spectroscopy laboratory at the University of Calgary, is led by Dr. Elmar Prenner. Dr. Prenner is the original developer of the technology owned by AB Photonics. Dr. Prenner, a professor at the University of Calgary within the department of Biological Sciences, serves as senior science advisor of FluroTech and brings over 28 years of expertise in fluorescence spectroscopy. “We are proud to commit our CompleTest™ platform technology and ongoing discovery efforts to partner with Albany Medical College’s team to find solutions to the difficult problems posed by viruses, and COVID-19 in particular,” said Dr. Elmar Prenner.