Hong Kong Biotech develops new technology to provide early detection of Coronavirus.
At a press conference held earlier this month (March 2020) by the Hong Kong Biotech Organisation, Hai Kang Life Corporation Limited’s ( Hai Kang Life) Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Ye Zhaoyang, R & D team members Dr. Timothy Ho and Dr. Jodie Xu introduced their ERT-PCR technology.
Hai Kang Life’s ERT-PCR technology is highly accurate and sensitive. It has the ability to analyze a large number of samples at one time making this detection method effective and efficient. Dr. Ye Zhaoyang said “Our team has only one aim and that is to focus all our energies into sharing our expertise and experiences to do more for ourselves, family and community in order to win this battle.”
When the outbreak of SARS was at large 17 years ago in Hong Kong, Hai Kang Life with the support of Philip K.H. Wong Foundation developed an enhanced fluorescence real-time PCR (ERT-PCR) technology and successfully applied it in clinical diagnosis.
In response to this new coronavirus epidemic, Hai Kang Life held a special R & D group meeting on “New Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 Nucleic Acid Detection” in Hong Kong and Beijing, and planned to provide an improved method for detection for public use. Despite the limited resources and urgent timeframe, Hai Kang Life’s Hong Kong and Beijing R & D teams worked together and successfully developed a rapid detection method suitable for the new coronavirus, in order to provide a more sensitive and accurate platform to be utilized in prevention and control.
ERT-PCR is at least ten times more sensitive than other nucleic acid detection technologies in the world. It uses an extra set of primers and an additional round of amplification of the target sequence to increase sensitivity and specificity. It requires only one copy of the target sequence in order to be detected. ERT-PCR technology is patented by Hai Kang Life Corporation Limited and the ERT-PCR test take 3-4 hours due to the additional round of amplification (current methods take one hour without this) and the company will continue to use clinical samples for validation. So a sacrifice of time in exchange for sensitivity is required.
During the Q&A session Dr Ye Zhaoyang and team were also asked about whether this new technology could detect the new coronavirus if it mutates and replied “This is dependent on the location of the mutation. The materials used to target COVID-19 are designed from the conserved regions of the sequence which have a low chance of mutating. Therefore, if a new strain of coronavirus emerges, we are most likely able to detect the conserved sequences ensuring the integrity of the technique. Nevertheless, we are confident in any additional approaches needed for precise differentiation.”
ERT-PCR technology detection can be applied to the general community and medical teams involved in combatting coronavirus for early diagnosis.The company has prepared operation manuals and video guides for the use of ERT-PCR technology. They can also provide training to technicians with the relevant operating experience.
Hong Kong Biotechnology Organization (HKBIO) who arranged the press conference will host the first ever Hong Kong International Biotechnology Exhibition BIOHK2020 from August 19 to 22, 2020. Innovation Hong Kong is a proud supporting organisation of BIOHK2020 and will provide discounted registrations with more details coming soon.
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