Abu Dhabi. QuantLase Imaging Lab in the UAE has developed a new laser beam technology, which enables mass Covid-19 testing with results available in seconds.
The technology detects the virus as soon as blood cells are infected. The equipment features a camera that identifies a morphological change in blood cells.
QuantLase Imaging Lab researcher Dr Pramod Kumar said: “The equipment, which uses a CMOS detector, will enable mass-scale screening with results made available in seconds.
“In fact, our laser-based DPI technique based on optical-phase modulation is able to give a signature of infection within a few seconds. What is more, it is user-friendly, non-invasive and low-cost. We believe it will be a game-changer in tackling the spread of the coronavirus.”
An advanced artificial intelligence (AI) image-analysis model predicts the outcome of each image with precision, speed and scale, Dr Kumar added.
It will help large-scale Covid-19 testing programmes to analyse a large number of images with accuracy and efficiency.
UAE Minister of Health and Prevention AbdulRahman bin Mohammed Al Owais said: “We are always following innovations related to the early and rapid detection of Covid–19. The government is keen on supporting initiatives that help the healthcare system in the UAE.
“Health officials have been closely monitoring the progress of trials with QuantLase in order to test this equipment. We are proud to see a technology that works and that will help to protect our people better.”
QuantLase Imaging Lab is the medical-research arm of International Holdings Company. The lab is partnering with G42, an AI and cloud computing company, to further enhance the laser programme.
Commenting on the invention, Nader Ahmed Al Hammadi, member of the Board of Directors at IHC: “IHC is proud to play a role in contributing to the robust efforts made by the UAE leadership in fighting the Covid-19 outbreak, especially with regards to testing and raising awareness.”
“With the first 1,000 tests, we refined our experiment and then applied it to the rest of the trials,” Dr Kumar said. “The process passed through several stages, and most recently was being trialledon a large scale, in line with current testing procedures.”
Since the World Health Organization’s declaration of Covid-19 as a global pandemic in March, scientists have been trying to develop a technology that would not only reduce the diagnosis time, but one that would enable doctors to concentrate on patients on the basis of need. It currently takes several hours to diagnose a Covid-19 case.
The lab hopes to be able to roll out the product in the market in a few months, Dr Kumar added. So far, the machine has produced results with high accuracy in optimal control setup, according to Dr Kumar.
“As far as early stage detection is concerned, our DPI technique is capable to detect as soon as the blood cell gets infected. Our aim is to eventually reach the maximum level of accuracy.”
Achieving scientific breakthroughs that focus on the welfare of people is one of the pillars of the National Strategy for Advanced Innovation announced by the UAE government in February 2018. The new strategy also calls for collaboration with leading international institutions and companies specialized in the field of innovation.