Friday, 05 June 2020 12:09

GreyScan, University of Tasmania collaborate to develop COVID-19 environment mobile trace detection tool Featured

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Australian technology company GreyScan is partnering with the University of Tasmania to develop a mobile trace detection tool to "rapidly and accurately detect" coronavirus and other surface viruses in the environment.

GreyScan - which was formed out of the Grey Innovation Group of companies - said on Friday that the project involved the "use of the science of trace detection" to provide proof-of-concept for a “world first” mobile virus detection device (GreyScan’s TVD-1) through laboratory research that will develop the chemistry needed to identify SARS-CoV-2 in the field.

The initial study is supported by $260,000 in co-funding from GreyScan and the CSIRO Innovation Connections Grant scheme.

GreyScan Chief Executive Officer Samantha Ollerton said the research represented the first step towards developing the TVD-1, which could be used to detect the virus in airports, public transportation systems and places of mass gatherings, as well as being deployed in the testing of people.

“Through our technology, and the development of the TVD-1, GreyScan’s goal is to enable the public to feel safe again and be able to return to their normal routines. It is critical to be able to demonstrate that cleaning or decontamination protocols have been followed and to encourage trust back into society,” Ollerton said.

University of Tasmania ACROSS Director, Professor Michael Breadmore said the project expanded on the trace explosives detection technology invented by his team and commercialised, manufactured and deployed by GreyScan.

“We will use what we learnt about how to do chemistry exceptionally quickly and apply this to virus detection. Our research will develop a way to collect, analyse and detect viruses from surfaces within a few minutes. It is not possible to implement existing diagnostic approaches in a time that is suitable for rapid screening. Our approach is truly unique in the world and in the diagnostic space,” Professor Breadmore said.

GreyScan notes that studies have found that SARS-CoV-2 remains viable on surfaces for many days, dependent on the surface, and asymptomatic carriers of the virus may continue to shed viral loads that can cause sickness in others.

Ollerton and the research team say they recognise there is significant need for environmental testing for COVID-19 to determine whether hospitals, schools, surfaces and 2 personal protective equipment are clean of the virus - and there are no current means to check how effective cleaning protocols are or to know whether the virus is present or not.

“The use of contact tracing and people testing will be augmented by the capability of the TVD-1, providing fast, accurate detection that can be used by anyone anywhere. This is a product for the future fight against this and any other viruses that we encounter in our lifetime,” Ollerton said.

GreyScan, which was formed out of the Grey Innovation Group of companies, says the TVD-1 Virus Detection Project is underway, with Grey Innovation leading an industry consortium to manufacture 2,000 NOTUS emergency invasive ventilators locally as part of the national response to the coronavirus pandemic.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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