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Nazarbayev University graduate developed the COVID-19 diagnostic test

Bolat Sultankulov, a Kazakhstani cell biologist who got a PhD degree at Nazarbayev University, developed an express-test system for detection of coronavirus in less than 15 minutes.

The scientist has come a long way from the inception of the idea to the real possibility of implementation the project. The development of the project was funded within the framework of the Program for Stimulating Research and Innovation Potential (FRIP) of Undergraduate and Graduate students of Nazarbayev University. The program is implemented by the Young Researchers Association (YRA) with the support of the Social Development Fund. The Bolat’s success led to continue to provide funding the project through «Astana Business Campus» LLP, which invests in promising innovative developments and start-ups.

The support of the scientific community and the funding made it possible to establish links with scientists from different countries. In June 2020, Bolat was able to obtain nanobodies from foreign partners in Switzerland against the coronavirus protein RBD, which formed the basis of the new test mechanism.

The uniqueness of the developed test is that it detects the virus itself rather than the antibodies. This significantly reduces the probability of false-positive or false-negative results.

The test can detect coronavirus in tiny amounts, which means it could be applied from the first day after the infection. The unique feature of the test is that it can be used independently at home. The express strip runs on a pregnancy test principle, but on saliva samples. This is not only more convenient and cheaper for the public, but also potentially reduces the burden on diagnostic laboratories.

«The main reason was to reduce the cost of diagnostics. Besides, I wanted to create a test-system for which does not need expensive equipment and specialists for analysis, and could be carried out at home», the developer noted.