Stream.ML, BioMark Diagnostics, and a dedicated team of domain experts are collaborating to develop a novel test platform for the rapid detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Using Raman and SERS, the Bio-Stream Spectral Test offers a comparable level of accuracy with the current PCR (polymerase chain reaction) “gold standard”. This Raman test is superior due to its minimal operator training, rapid data capture, inexpensive per-test cost (less than $1), and final results provided in less than 30 seconds.
This accelerated screening platform will include end-user software and configuring hardware into a commercial system that will be available for third-party testing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Our efforts are dedicated to improving the delivery, speed, and quality of healthcare to all, so we want to reach a wide audience to continue to gather support for this project. This collective effort will address an urgent and immediate need for accurate, ultra-rapid antibody diagnostic testing for SARS-CoV-2 that can contribute to the global health response.
As the world tries to return to the “new normal”, the short-term need is detecting the SARS-CoV-2 virus in hospitals and labs. Beyond this, we all will want to secure safe measures for interaction where social distancing (although necessary right now) proves to be an obstacle.
Airports, for example, may require individual passenger testing for each flight. A 30-second test would make this practical where current testing- set around 20 minutes per test- could be crippling.
Some essential apparatuses of our society that would benefit from rapid detection include military, protective services, and law enforcement. There’s also food packaging and assembly plants, plus eventually entertainment industries like sporting events, movie theatres, and music concerts. The possibilities are endless.
Through the Bio-Stream Spectral Test, our team offers the development of a detection tool that would screen populations to help overcome the barriers essential for keeping our lives moving forward. Furthermore, Raman and SERS is an emerging area of interest for bacterial and viral testing and so this effort will contribute to the state of the art in diagnostic technologies.
Our commercial product is to be the Bio-Stream Spectral Test. It is to be a portable, desktop size point-of-care SARS-CoV-2 screening tool that allows direct sample-to-instrument application, with the addition of antibodies to the sample being only for virus neutralization.
The scanned Raman spectral data is captured through surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) on an attached laptop. A simple API call sends the data to the Stream.ML machine learning model, and the predictive result is returned within seconds via the application software displaying the results on screen. With a push of a button, the Bio-Stream Spectral Test is to provide an instant spectral read on the sample which informs if the virus is present or not.
The goal is that this testing system will be just as sensitive as PCR (or better) and allow rapid detection without the need for extensive training for machine use. SERS will be customized for our application and is designed not only to increase the signal dramatically, but requires no time consuming sample preparation. It operates by a fast response mechanism with spectral acquisition, seldom requiring more than 30 seconds. The multi-environmental, multi-analyte capability of SERS makes it highly promising for COVID-19 rapid screening application.
The primary applications would be in the hospitals receiving patients (removing the need for patient samples to be sent out to a laboratory) and markets where social distancing is a challenge. The Bio-Stream Spectral Test is to be accurate, reproducible, fast, accessible, and inexpensive.
1. We are already underway.
Basic tenants for antibody development for the virus are already in our possession: the access to a Level 3 Laboratory, access to live virus, access to an experienced team— through Dr. Bach, Division of Infectious Diseases, Dept. of Medicine, University of British Columbia.
2. Detection has been a past success.
Implementation of a SERS system (showing Raman detection) has succeeded on virus in the past: a proven record of detection of cancer biomarkers at an ultra-low sensitivity range of 1 ng/mL using SERS, using a novel integrated Raman probe— through Rashid Ahmed Bux, Biomark Diagnostic Inc.
3. Vast experience in spectral data.
Years of experience collecting Raman data coming together with spectroscopy and machine learning being uniquely combined: custom neural nets that ensure optimal model performance can be created— through Stream.ML and Ocean Insight.
4. Wholesome kit is provided.
Our new test will be a turnkey testing system: complete with disposable sample-collection SERS substrates, a compact spectrometer, software, model execution, Raman hardware supplies, scanning instructions, and integration of the test data into electronic medical record systems. This, all to be also guided through Health Canada regulatory processes— through Stream.ML, Merogenomics, Gamble Technologies Inc, Clinisys, Pure Vertical, and St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre.
Along with our strong team of experts, we are working with others to ensure a better outcome for all. Time is of the essence, so please reach out to us… especially if you are:
Antibodies – proteins produced by the immune system in response to exposure to antigens. Each antibody contains a paratope which recognizes a specific epitope on an antigen, acting like a lock and key binding mechanism. This binding helps to eliminate antigens from the body, either by direct neutralization or by ‘tagging’ for other arms of the immune system.
Nasopharyngeal swab – a method for collecting a clinical test sample of nasal secretions from the back of the nose and throat.
PCR – Polymerase chain reaction is a laboratory technique used to detect the presence or absence of certain genomic fragments (DNA). PCR is very precise but time consuming and can be used to amplify, or copy, a specific DNA target from a mixture of DNA molecules. PCR is extensively used in analysing clinical specimens for the presence of infectious agents, including HIV, hepatitis, human malaria and anthrax.
Raman – a spectroscopic technique typically used to determine vibrational modes of molecules (signals) that is commonly used in chemistry to provide a structural fingerprint by which molecules can be identified.
SERS – Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy or surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) is a surface-sensitive technique that enhances Raman signal.
More on SERS…
Stream.ML is a team of business leaders, developers, and scientists that bring together the power of reflected light and machine learning to make detection quick, easy, and accessible. They value high-quality products and an open, collaborative relationship with our partners to develop world-changing solutions.
BioMark Diagnostics Inc.
BioMark Diagnostics Inc. is a team of scientists, engineers, and medical professionals that produce innovative technology that increases prediction and accuracy in the diagnosis of cancers by incorporating the highest scientific standards. Their studies focus on the pivotal role that metabolomics plays in early cancer detection.
Ocean Insight is the Applied Spectral Knowledge company. With 250 people in Florida, 8 locations around the world, over 250,000 spectrometers and systems delivering insight, for more than 25 years… they have discovered, refined and delivered new approaches to solving problems with spectroscopy and imaging technologies. Ocean Insight uses spectral technology, application expertise, and manufacturing scalability to help customers take on important challenges for a safer, cleaner, healthier future. We collaborate with science, research and industry customers to achieve ambitious goals, leveraging the power of light for advancements in health, safety and the environment.
University of British Columbia
The University of British Columbia is a global centre for teaching, learning and research, consistently ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world and recently recognized as North America’s most international university. The Division of Infectious Diseases in the UBC Department of Medicine is actively involved in combating infectious diseases through patient care, education, and research.
Gamble Technologies is a closely held Canadian Corporation providing instrument solutions in the scientific, engineering and medical research communities as well as to the Canadian homeland security sector. They have the ability to reach resources that challenge single solution suppliers.
Merogenomics was conceived to make the benefits of genome sequencing more accessible. They promote awareness about the best societal use and economic value of genomic technologies among governmental agencies, policy makers, industry stakeholders, patient advocacy groups, and commercial interests.
Clinisys is a software and analytics company offering a variety of secure, scalable, and user-friendly e-Healthcare solutions and data services to the healthcare industry. The company is comprised of a dedicated team of professionals from various disciplines including healthcare, IT, and business, united with one goal: to develop the next generation of Clinical Intelligence.
BioMark’s SERS technology
2015. Chimenti, J. Elliott, R.A. Bux, “Raman Spectroscopy Could Facilitate Deployment of Amantadine-Based Cancer Screening Technology— Enabling the Transition from Labs to Villages,” American Pharmaceutical Review, online, 2015.
Detection of viruses using Raman spectroscopy
2019. Tong, C. Chen, J. Zhang, et al., “Application of Raman spectroscopy in the detection of hepatitis B virus infection”, Photodiagnosis Photodyn Ther 28(5):248, 2019.
2008. Shanmukh, L. Jones, Y.-P. Zhao, et al., “Identification and classification of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) strains by surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy and multivariate statistical techniques,” Anal Bioanal Chem 390(6):1551, 2008.
V.I. Kukushkin, N.M. Ivanov, A.A. Novoseltseva, et al., “Highly sensitive detection of influenza virus with SERS aptasensor,”PLoS ONE 14(4):e0216247, 2019