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Sorrento Therapeutics Licenses Saliva-Based Coronavirus Test From Columbia University

NEW YORK — Drug developer Sorrento Therapeutics said on Wednesday that it has licensed a rapid point-of-care SARS-CoV-2 test from Columbia University.

According to the San Diego-based company, the reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP)-based test involves placing a saliva or nasopharyngeal swab sample into a tube that is warmed in a heat block or water bath. A colorimetric readout is provided within 30 minutes, confirming the presence or absence of viral RNA.

The test, which will be marketed by Sorrento under the Covi-Trace brand name, was developed by Columbia University Fertility Center's Zev Williams based on technology he and his team used for preimplantation genetic testing. As reported in a preprint last month, the test has demonstrated 97 percent sensitivity and 100 percent specificity. 

"We are building a portfolio of highly relevant COVID-19 solutions that spans diagnostics, prevention, early intervention, and rescue therapies," Sorrento Chairman and CEO Henry Ji said in a statement. "Covi-Trace will be a key asset in our diagnostic solutions, and we intend to move rapidly to submit an emergency use authorization request to the FDA and prepare for full-scale production."