TNO developed a fast, cheap and reliable corona test: result within an hour

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TNO, together with the Public Health Service Amsterdam, has opened a test street for a Corona rapid test that has been developed by TNO and partners. This new test shortens the time between sample collection and actual detection of the COVID-19 virus to one hour with the same reliability as the PCR test. Being able to determine more quickly if a person is infected is vital in efficiently controlling the infection in the population. Samples from the Amsterdam Public Health Service test line have been assessed by PCR and by the TNO LAMP test.

A lot is involved when testing whether someone is infected with the corona virus. Various operations and steps are required to eventually arrive at detection. This takes a considerable amount of time and requires expertise, specific test kits and reagents. These are not always sufficiently available. With the help of a new detection method (LAMP) newly developed by TNO for COVID-19, the number of intermediate steps is simplified and reduced, as is the amount of reagents required. The price per test is therefore well below the current PCR test.


Fluorescence result LAMP
TNO developed this method based on LAMP (Loop mediated isothermal AMPlification). LAMP is cheaper, less demanding with regard to the required laboratory infrastructure and gives faster results. For example, it is possible to work at a constant process temperature, in contrast to the current PCR method with a narrowly-defined sequence of temperatures and operations that is only possible in well-equipped labs.

LAMP therefore makes it possible to determine locally in a pop-up lab and well within one hour whether someone is infected. You can wait for the result, as it were, where PCR can now take 24-48 hours in the Netherlands. TNO-LAMP can also be performed with materials exclusively produced in the Netherlands.


The method, including the entire work process surrounding the test, and the robot involved has now been clinically validated.  At present, this easily scalable method is now being introduced in the other test lanes in the Netherlands.

This project was started within the Brains4Corona initiative of TNO. The innovative strength of TNO employees is used in this to contribute to combating the effects of the corona virus. At the request of the Ministry of Health, the project was funded as an urgent research project by the Dutch Research Health Council (ZonMW).

Link to a video (Dutch only).

More information
Edwin Abeln

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