Canadian Manufacturing

LuminUltra files patent for rapid, on-site COVID-19 wastewater testing solution

Research between LuminUltra, Dalhousie University and Halifax Water demonstrates wastewater data helps with early detection and tracking COVID-19

October 21, 2020  by CM Staff

LuminUltra provides complete testing solutions for each of the three protocols: clinical diagnostics, surface and air testing and wastewater testing. This diagram outlines the coverage potential per testing solution. Together, the solutions allow for a holistic approach to pandemic management. (PHOTO: LuminUltra)

FREDERICTON, NB — LuminUltra, a Canada-based biotechnology leader and portfolio company of XPV Water Partners, recently filed a patent for the first complete, rapid, and on-site COVID-19 wastewater testing solution.

Scientists from LuminUltra and Dalhousie University collaborated to assess real-world wastewater samples provided by Halifax Water, in order to prepare a sample for accurate wastewater testing. According to a statement, the RNA extraction and concentration process resulting from the team’s research has eliminated the need for additional complicated equipment, greatly simplifying the process from sample collection to result while increasing accuracy and consistency of results.

“The idea of wastewater surveillance testing has been advocated by researchers around the world since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Pat Whalen, president and CEO of LuminUltra, in a prepared statement. “Until now, wastewater testing has been complicated, expensive and time consuming — meaning the potentially life-saving technique was reserved for niche subgroups under the watchful eye of researchers. We have been determined to make this surveillance tool more accessible to communities everywhere, allowing for a game-changing early warning of COVID-19 infections.”

The presence of the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen can be detected in human waste of infected individuals — even in asymptomatic or presymptomatic patients. LuminUltra’s wastewater testing solution utilizes the rapid and portable GeneCount qPCR device. LuminUltra’s solution allegedly examines multiple samples on-site within 90 minutes, without the need for specific testing expertise — making the testing process more efficient and therefore available at a lower price point than other wastewater testing solutions.


“Public health leaders around the world have validated that wastewater testing is a powerful tool in the fight against the pandemic, and global research leaders have demonstrated the benefits of testing human waste in controlled populations,” said Amina Stoddart of Dalhousie University. “Wastewater testing has been shown to lead to early identification of the virus before it is known in a clinical context — the potential benefit could help Public Health leaders with additional information for decisions concerning the pandemic. We are very pleased to continue Dalhousie’s long-standing research relationship with LuminUltra to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic in Halifax and beyond.”

“This collaboration is an extension of our history of supporting and fostering innovative research in water and wastewater,” said General Manager Cathie O’Toole, of Halifax Water. “Halifax and other communities are looking for monitoring solutions to reliably gather information about population health and effectively control the spread of COVID-19.”

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