Kanagawa Prefecture and government-backed research institute Riken said Thursday they have developed a testing method that can detect the new coronavirus in 30 minutes, far shorter than the six hours required with current tests.
The Kanagawa Prefectural Institute of Public Health and Riken created the new diagnostic test in their joint research using samples from a passenger infected with the virus who had been aboard the Diamond Princess, a quarantined cruise ship near Tokyo.
"We would like (the test) to become available for public use as soon as possible," Kanagawa Gov. Yuji Kuroiwa said at a press conference.
The prefecture will conduct tests for the pneumonia-causing virus with the new method on a trial basis.
Under the polymerase chain reaction test, widely used to detect the virus at present, it takes a few hours to mix reagents and samples.
But the new method can complete the phase in 10 to 30 minutes as it does not require the process of raising and lowering the temperature of the mixed samples needed in the polymerase chain reaction test.
(Kanagawa Gov. Yuji Kuroiwa (L) and a Riken official)
Research facilities and pharmaceutical companies are stepping up development of new testing methods amid the rapid spread of the pneumonia-causing coronavirus originating from China.
Japan's Cabinet earlier in the month approved 10.3 billion yen ($94 million) for emergency measures against the new coronavirus, including promoting the development of test kits that can shorten the waiting time for the results.
The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and Kyorin Pharmaceutical Co. have jointly developed a technology that can determine whether someone is infected or not in 15 minutes.
Chemical company Tosoh Corp. and Fujifilm Wako Pure Chemical Corp., a subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings Corp., also began to develop new reagents for shorter virus tests.