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This New England Startup Is Developing An Analyzer That Will Detect Coronavirus


It’s hard to imagine a startup better positioned to respond to the coronavirus pandemic than Beverly, Massachusetts-based LexaGene. The company is developing a fully automated genetic analyzer to identify pathogens, bacteria and viruses like the coronavirus, designed to be used at the site of sample collection and return results in about one hour.

Founder and CEO Dr. Jack Regan, a virologist who did his post-doctoral training at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, compares the analyzer to a Keurig coffee maker, albeit one that handles 27 pods at once.

The LexaGene analyzer can test for up to 27 pathogens at once. It is about 10 inches wide by 15 inches tall by 18 inches deep and has a small screen where the results of the testing are displayed. “It’s small enough to fit in a cramped emergency room space, but it’s being built to be a gold standard of testing,” Regan said.

Due to the overwhelming interest in LexaGene’s rapid, on-site analyzer for the detection of novel infectious diseases like COVID-19, LexaGene is taking every measure to accelerate its FDA (Emergency Use Authorization) submission,” the news release states.

Regan had initially hoped to introduce the company’s first instrument to veterinary clinics some time this summer. The coronavirus pandemic has obviously affected those plans. LexaGene is performing in-house testing using the Center for Disease Control’s coronavirus test, but is also developing tests of its own for SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes COVID-19.

Regan said LexaGene is on track to deliver its first commercial detection system by early fall, which will help in the effort to deal with the pandemic. Even if the number of cases of COVID-19 subsides this summer, Regan expects the number to increase in the fall. He said COVID-19 is likely to become a seasonal pathogen, like the flu.

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