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UAE develops rapid coronavirus laser testing technology with results available in seconds

UAE develops rapid coronavirus laser testing technology with results available in seconds

The device which is expected to be available in the market over the next few months is developed by QuantLase Imaging Lab and will enable rapid mass-scale testing

QuantLase Imaging Lab

The UAE has developed an AI-powered laser testing technology device which can facilitate rapid mass screenings for the Covid-19 virus, with the test results showing up within seconds.

The equipment was developed by QuantLase Imaging Lab, the medical-research department of Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange-listed International Holdings Company (IHC).

“The equipment, which uses a CMOS detector, will enable mass-scale screening….In fact, our laser-based DPI (Diffractive Phase Interferometry) technique, based on optical-phase modulation, is able to give a signature of infection within a few seconds,” said Dr Pramod Kumar, who head the team of researchers at the lab which has been studying the change in cell structure of the virus-infected blood.

The device is currently undergoing extensive testing and is expected to be made available in the market in a few months.

“It is user-friendly, non-invasive and low-cost. The device is suitable for use not only in hospitals and public places like cinemas and shopping malls, but with a little hands-on training, it can be used for in-house testing and monitoring. We believe it will be a game-changer in tackling the spread of the coronavirus.”

Dr Kumar said that an advanced AI image-analysis model predicts the outcome of each image with precision, speed and scale – a critical requirement in large-scale testing programmes, where numerous images needs to be analysed with accuracy and efficiency.

The lab has partnered with Abu Dhabi-based AI and cloud computing company Group42 (G42) to further refine the laser programme.

“With the first 1,000 tests, we refined our experiment and then applied it to the rest of the trials,” added Dr Kumar

“The process passed through several stages, and most recently was being trialed on a large scale, in line with current testing procedures. As far as early stage detection is concerned, our DPI technique is capable to detect as soon as the blood cell gets infected. Our aim is to eventually reach the maximum level of accuracy.”

The UAE’s Minister of Health and Prevention, Abdul Rahman bin Mohammad bin Nasser Al Owais, also expressed optimism regarding the breakthrough technology and added: “We are always following innovations related to the early and rapid detection of Covid-19. The government is keen on supporting initiatives that help the healthcare system in the UAE. Health officials have been closely monitoring the progress of trials with QuantLase in order to test this equipment. We are proud to see a technology that works and that will help to protect our people better.”

In April, Abu Dhabi announced that a massive-throughput laboratory was operational in Masdar City which allows for population-scale detection and diagnosis of the Covid-19 virus.

Read: Watch: How Abu Dhabi built a high-volume Covid-19 testing lab in 14 days

The laboratory is a collaboration between G42 and genomics company BGI, and can conduct tens of thousands of real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests per day.

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