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Research on Rapid Diagnostic Test for COVID-19 Underway at NYMC

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, researchers around the world have been working to develop a rapid diagnostic approach to test for the highly infectious Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

July 27, 2020
From left: Humayun K. Islam, M.D., Ph.D., Mari Lillis, Lori W. Solomon, M.D.’ 99, M.P.H.’ 09, Melinee D’Silva, M.S., Ebrahim Afshinnekoo, B.A., and Jerry L. Nadler, M.D.
From left: Humayun K. Islam, M.D., Ph.D., Mari Lillis, Lori W. Solomon, M.D.’ 99, M.P.H.’ 09, Melinee D’Silva, M.S., Ebrahim Afshinnekoo, B.A., and Jerry L. Nadler, M.D.

The study, which is being done in collaboration with Weill Cornell Medicine, is an expansion of an earlier project in which a group at Cornell, including Ebrahim Afshinnekoo, School of Medicine (SOM) Class of 2021, designed and optimized a rapid LAMP assay to detect SARS-CoV-2 infection from nasopharyngeal (NP) swab specimens and oropharyngeal (OP) swab lysates in specimens taken from COVID-19 patients at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The work has now expanded to validate the method across several different clinical sites, including NYMC, Medical College of Wisconsin, Columbia University and Weill Cornell Medicine, with Mr. Afshinnekoo leading the coordination across all sites. With the assay already proven to be effective on NP and OP swabs, testing on saliva samples is now being done and if successful could lead to easier, more widespread testing.

In addition to Mr. Afshinnekoo, Humayun K. Islam, M.D., Ph.D., interim chair of the Department of Pathology and clinical professor of pathology, will serve as principal investigator of the study, Jerry L. Nadler, M.D., dean of the SOM and professor of medicine and pharmacology, and Lori W. Solomon, M.D. ’99, M.P.H. ’09, chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine and assistant professor of family and community medicine, will serve as co-investigators and Melinee D’Silva, M.S., laboratory manager in Dean Nadler’s lab, will assist with collection and preparation.

“Once cleared as a clinical diagnostic assay, the LAMP test has potential to be integral to the SARS-CoV-2 testing platform at NYMC, its various clinical sites and the Touro College and University System at large and will establish NYMC as one of the few sites in the U.S. developing a rapid test using saliva,” says Dr. Nadler.