*Vote here: Iceni Diagnostics are in it to win the Changing Lives Special Recognition Award*

Rob Field of Iceni Diagnostics, Norwich.

“The pandemic was as devasting as it was unforeseen, but out of the crisis emerged heroes,” says David Parffrey, executive chair of the Norwich Research Park, where Iceni Diagnostics are conducting much of their research to test and finalise a novel coronavirus test.

The test uses their proprietary HPGR technology that, uniquely, detects the presence of intact SARS-COV-2 virus, meaning that a positive result from an Iceni Diagnostics test is a key indicator that active virus is truly present, giving a clear signal of current infection and potential transmissibility. The test will identify both symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers – so help to limit infection spread. This technology also effectively differentiates between infectious and no longer infectious carriers – giving rapid clearance to patients who need to return home, to their school or workplace.

“The practical advantages of the Iceni Diagnostics test is that it is housed in a lateral flow device (like an over-the-counter pregnancy test), which gives rapid results in under 15 minutes, is easy to produce and can be scaled up, using established manufacture sites,” says Dr Simone Dedola, who leads the company’s research team.

Iceni Diagnostics have been nominated for the Changing Lives Special Recognition Award, and you can support them by voting here. The award recognises the efforts of local businesses, over the past months, which have adapted quickly to help tackle the pandemic. “In any infectious disease outbreak, it is important to quickly identify carriers of the disease and this is key to controlling the spread of infection,” Dr Dedola explains.

The Iceni Diagnostics team began collecting data as soon as awareness of Covid-19 arose in Wuhan, to verify if there was scope to develop a rapid test. “Our long-term work on other respiratory viruses showed there was potential,” Dr Dedola says. “In early March, with the wave of cases moving rapidly across Europe and increasing here, we took the decision to divert all our efforts towards a rapid test for Covid-19.”

The team quickly identified key components of the coronavirus, producing preliminary tests that were run alongside PCR testing in the local NHS lab – and these produced very encouraging results. “The science behind our test is robust. We are convinced we will provide a highly effective rapid test that will make a major contribution to managing this pandemic,” says Dr Dedola.