URI researchers to launch clinical trial of new coronavirus test

KINGSTON, R.I (WLNE) –  URI researchers have developed and are prepared to launch a new coronavirus test that will be put into use across its campuses as a screening tool.

According to URI, the saliva-based test is less invasive than the traditional swab test, and researchers say it can deliver results at a lower cost.

The University is launching a clinical trial this week as part of the final phase of data collection for an Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA.

The research and testing that began last spring are led by URI Professor of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Angela Slitt.

“One of the things we set out to do was to develop a less invasive, more cost-effective, more accessible test,” said Slitt.

“And I think we’ve done that. We use saliva, work off different supply chains, use different, less cost-prohibitive instrumentation and are effectively lowering the barriers to entry for many”, she continued. 

The research team is working with Thermo Fisher Scientific, of Waltham, Massachusetts, to validate the test and provide a necessary supply for distribution.

The trial launching this week will be conducted in cooperation with URI Athletics and URI Health Services, will screen athletes and others who volunteer to take part.

The data gathered will be used as part of the school’s application to the FDA.

“From start to finish this has been an extraordinary team effort drawing on expertise and support from across the University, as well as from the Rhode Island Department of Health and experts in industry, to protect our students and make a positive impact for others,” said URI President David M. Dooley.

“The development of the test and the lab really speak to our mission as a research university engaged in relevant work that affects people’s lives”, he continued.

The university says FDA approval of the test would have far-reaching implications both at home and abroad.

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