LabAnywhere was originally developed for use in agriculture and was designed for the hard life a testing tool experiences on the farm and in the field. Dr. Bill Whelan and his team at the University of Prince Edward Island were successful in creating a test for certain diseases in agriculture and that did not need to be sent off to a specialized lab.
Then along came COVID-19. The basic technology used in LabAnywhere to detect a virus doesn’t care whether it is a human or animal virus, so he saw the opportunity to re-purpose his team’s work to test for human disease.
Dr. Whelan had the personal motivation from his own experience with the current COVID-19 testing procedure. He was tested for the virus and had to wait 2 days for the negative result to come back. His knew his work could lead to results delivered in an hour and on-site. Much better than biting your fingernails while waiting in self-isolation to find out if you are positive.
With funding from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the project will use easily handled, safe viruses from the animal world for initial testing, and once initial trials are complete, move to tests using human viruses.
Here is Dr. Whelan’s conversation with freelance broadcaster Don Hill.