Escondido company developing 'game-changer' rapid COVID test

Posted at 1:42 PM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 16:43:59-05

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) — A North County company is developing a new rapid COVID-19 test described as a "game-changer" — and it could be just weeks away from emergency approval.

According to the CDC, rapid coronavirus tests may only be 80% accurate, leaving room for improvement as the demand for testing remains high.

Dr. Suresh Menon, founder and president of Menon in Escondido, told ABC 10News anchor Lindsey Peña that the company started focusing on already existing "molecular mirror" technology last summer in order to create a new kind of test.

"This is the fastest known method at a massive scale in science to detect the invisible enemy, the SARS COVID virus," Menon said.

Menon says the test they're developing is capable of testing up to 100,000 samples an hour.

Unlike other rapid tests that detect antigens, Menon's testing process identifies the virus on a molecular level and uses an MRI machine to detect COVID in a large number of samples at one time.

"Within 5-10 minutes the wells containing the virus lights up, which a computer can document in real-time," said Menon.

The company is partnering with UC San Diego to test its technology as quickly and effectively as possible.

Dr. David Price, with UCSD, says they're testing as many samples as they can get right now, and are about a few weeks away from applying for FDA emergency use authorization.

"We're talking about doing tests at huge scale with the quality of PCR tests and that's why this has the potential to be a game-changer in COVID testing," Price said.

The new rapid COVID test is also a finalist for the X Prize, a scientific competition that could award the company worldwide recognition for its breakthrough and millions in funding.