Editor’s note: During challenging times like these, we all need some good news. We’re proud to be able to share an important story about a company from the Espresso portfolio that’s making a major contribution in the fight against COVID-19.
In late 2019, Paul Lem started receiving requests to come up with a test for a new strain of coronavirus that had emerged in China and that would eventually become known as COVID-19. As the number of reported cases began to skyrocket and the virus spread around the world, it quickly became clear that testing was a major bottleneck. To this day, fast, effective testing simply isn’t available in many places. As a result, the virus has been able to spread far more quickly than it otherwise would.
Fortunately, Lem is in a great position to help. As the founder and CEO of Spartan Bioscience, a world expert in portable DNA testing, he and his team quickly set their sights on developing a technology that would allow people to not only reliably test whether or not they’ve contracted COVID-19, but to also do so from anywhere. The device works by looking for COVID-19’s genetic sequence in the DNA from a mouth swab.
While having quick and reliable testing is critical, being able to administer testing without having to send people to hospitals or treatment centers is a game-changer. Not only will it help limit some of the pressure on already overstrained healthcare systems around Canada and beyond, it also has the potential to dramatically reduce the further spread of the virus by ensuring that more people get testing and are able to self-quarantine if needed.
Recognizing its huge potential, last week Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named Spartan as one of three Canadian companies that are being fast-tracked for federal funding to develop technology in the fight against COVID-19.
While the company will require additional funding and regulatory approval to be able to deploy its solution, Lem is confident. He says virtually his entire company is focused on bringing this critical test to market and that they’ll continue working around the clock to make that happen.
Should the company get the approvals and support it needs, Lem predicts that his devices will be made widely available in pharmacies, schools, airports, and doctors’ offices. To learn more about the exciting work that Spartan is doing, visit spartanbio.com.
Update: On April 13, Spartan Bioscience announced that it has received Health Canada approval for its COVID-19 test. Approval by Health Canada means that tests can now be shipped to Spartan’s federal and provincial government partners starting immediately. Read more here.