Group 42 (G42), a leading artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing company based in the UAE, on Tuesday announced the development of a new population scale technology that can detect COVID-19.
Developed alongside UK-based Oxford Nanopore Technologies, the detection system is set to be launched within a few weeks.
The new solution is now being incorporated into the UAE national testing strategy. Over a ramp-up period in the G42 sequencing facility in Abu Dhabi, the program is expected to scale to hundreds of thousands of samples daily.
“This breakthrough solution is a result of the tireless effort by our joint teams under the extraordinary pressure of COVID-19. The worst of the pandemic has brought out the best in us,” said Peng Xiao, chief executive officer of G42.
“We believe this capability will not only enable large-scale screening of SARS-CoV-2, but also fundamentally shift the paradigm on health diagnostics in general,” he added.
The detection system uses LamPORE assay, which is based on the LAMP (loop-mediated isothermal amplification) technique and Oxford Nanopore’s rapid sequencing platform, in combination with the high-throughput automation, sample processing and reporting workflows developed by G42.
The LamPORE assay can be performed on the extracted RNA from swabs, and it is also in development to work directly from saliva. The method can be also be used to analyze environmental samples to assess the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on surfaces, or in systems such as water and sewage treatment facilities.
“Precise and cost-efficient population-scale testing is key to a responsible easing of restrictions, to protect the health of populations and supporting the re-opening of global economic activity,” said Dr. Gordon Sanghera, chief executive officer of Oxford Nanopore.