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New Zealand Biotech Firm Pictor Gets $300K Grant for Development of Rapid Coronavirus Test

NEW YORK ─ Auckland, New Zealand-based biotech firm Pictor said Monday it has received a NZ$500,000 ($300,000) grant from the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) COVID-19 Innovation Acceleration Fund to develop a test for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in less than an hour.

"Current diagnostic testing in New Zealand for COVID-19 is slow, complex, expensive, and must be done in a specialist central laboratory," Pictor CEO Howard Moore said in a statement.

The new test will involve the simultaneous detection of specific biomarkers associated with different stages of infection, "enabling early diagnosis of infected patients, including asymptomatic patients," Moore said. 

The company said it has developed, patented, and commercialized an immunodiagnostic platform to detect multiple biomarkers from a single sample of liquid, such as blood, serum, or milk.

The firm anticipates deploying the test globally, including in developing nations and decentralized labs in remote locations.

Pictor also announced it has concluded a research agreement, administered by the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries, DairyNZ, and Beef + Lamb, to develop a more sensitive diagnostic test for Mycoplasma bovis in cattle.