A Mission-based tech company believes they have a ‘made-in-Canada’ solution to the COVID-19 testing problem.
Lumex Instruments is trying to get Health Canada approval for AriaDNA.
Chilliwack’s Jared Penner, CEO of the ISM Sales Group, which has Lumex Instruments as a client, is promoting the product.
He said it can test up to seven samples in just 30 minutes.
The most direct comparison is a device called the Spartan Cube, produced by Spartan Bioscience in Nepean, Ontario.
Penner says the Spartan Cube can complete just one test in ‘under an hour.’
“But rather than using little vials, like the Spartan Cube and every other testing device, AriaDNA uses a microchip,” Penner explained. “The microchip is pre-loaded with reagents (reactive chemicals), so you don’t have to squirt a bunch of stuff in a bottle. Because of the microchip technology, it uses anywhere from five to 20 times less reagents than any other current system.”
One notable difference is that the Spartan Cube is smaller, advertised as being the size of a coffee cup, and can be used in the field, where AriaDNA requires a laboratory setting. A mobile laboratory will do as well.
But Penner insisted AriaDNA’s advantages outweigh the portability of its competition, and he said AriaDNA isn’t using new technology.
Lumex Instruments has been around for 20-plus years and this device has been used around the world for years to test for pathogens in plants and animals.
“In the last couple months, they just re-jigged the machine and developed a new microchip to be able to test for COVID-19,” Penner said. “This has been in industry for years and years just doing potato pathogens. It’s patented technology that isn’t new, and it is proven.”
Lumex Instruments is seeking ‘emergency interim approval’ through Health Canada.
The application was submitted Mar. 30.
One of the requirements for approval is having a lab utilize AriaDNA with real patient samples of COVID-19, and not the synthetic samples Lumex Instruments has been working with.
Finding a lab that will agree to dedicate time and resources to instrument testing has been difficult.
“I reached out to the office of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney this morning (Tuesday) and said, ‘If you want to get moving with a made-in-Canada solution, we’ve got it and we just need help to get it out there,’” Penner said. “The Spartan Cube is a great first step, but AriaDNA is miles ahead.
“We have a made-in-Canada solution that we want to offer to Canada first, but we’re at the point where we’re may open it up to international buyers who won’t be as concerned about the approval process.”
Penner says Lumex Instruments has 30 units in stock right now, and production could be “ramped up real quick.”
The company said they are ready to produce 48,000 tests per month.
For info on the Lumex Instruments COVID-19 solution, see lumexinstruments.com/applications/covid-19_detection_system.php