August 25, 2020
As a world leader in oral biology and salivary diagnostics, the Forsyth Institute is working with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative as an advisor and critical resource in the effort to develop and eventually deploy millions of accurate, rapid COVID-19 point-of-care tests used daily in schools, colleges, universities, and for testing underserved populations.
Forsyth will be one of several resources who will work with other core institutions selected by the RADx program to develop and improve testing devices and technologies that utilize saliva as the test sample. Since saliva contains detectable traces of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and is easily collected, it is an appealing sample type to enable widespread, non-invasive, and rapid testing. Importantly, saliva can be collected repeatedly, and unlike nasal swab samples, saliva does not require a specific method or tool to collect.
The Forsyth Salivary Diagnostic Center was established in 2013 based on a long legacy of saliva analysis research, which the Forsyth Institute has conducted since the early 1920s. Forsyth has been at the forefront of salivary research for decades and has unique expertise in developing saliva-based tests.
“Forsyth is well-positioned to provide research and development support for saliva-based COVID-19 tests that will eventually reach millions of people daily or weekly,” said Dr. Wenyuan Shi, CEO and Chief Scientific Officer at the Forsyth Institute.
Any saliva-based test will need to be able to tease out the right molecules to effectively test for COVID-19. Since saliva is extremely ‘sticky’ on a molecular level, identifying a particular molecule within a saliva sample is challenging.
“Forsyth has a century of experience and expertise in saliva research. We are honored to assist in this national effort to develop a COVID-19 test that will undoubtably save lives, and help move our country back to normal,” said Dr. Shi.
As one of the RADx resource centers, Forsyth will provide recommendations for how saliva samples should be processed based on the nature of the detection technology. Researchers at the Institute will also assist in developing optimal solutions to manage saliva sampling techniques, viscosity, and interfering substances.
“We look forward to providing Forsyth as one of many resources for RADx applicants to help the teams introduce to the market large numbers of safe, accurate, and easy-to-use tests,” said Michael Dempsey, Commercialization Lead for the RADx Tech program.
This project has been funded in whole or in part through a $1.5 billion investment of federal funds from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institutes of Health, and Department of Health and Human Services. The Forsyth Institute is supporting this project as a subcontractor of VentureWell under Contract 75N92020P00171.
For more information about the RADx program visit, https://www.nih.gov/research-training/medical-research-initiatives/radx.