LARGO, Fla. — A Tampa Bay company is awaiting FDA approval for a COVID-19 testing device that could produce results in a matter of minutes.

What You Need To Know

  • Kaligia Biosciences is developing a coronavirus test using saliva

  • The device is small; results come within minutes

  • The company is waiting on FDA approval

The system developed by Largo-based Kaligia Biosciences uses saliva to determine whether a person has tested positive or negative for coronavirus. CEO Fazal Fazlin came up with the idea during an evening commute. 

“One day l was driving home and l said ‘if the pandemic is because of somebody talking or through the mouth, then it has to be in saliva',” said Fazlin. 

Fazlin was already working on technology that could detect glucose in diabetics without breaking the skin. He retrofitted that system in response to the growing coronavirus pandemic.

“We started a process to see how we could use the software we already had with slight modifications, and equipment we already had with slight modifications, to be able to digitize saliva,” he said.

The testing requires a person to spit into a small vial. That vial is then placed into a machine that is about the size of a shoebox. 

After less than two minutes of processing, the machine prints a readout letting the subject know if the test was positive or negative.

“Anytime you have a moment like a pandemic, it breeds ingenuity,” said Kevin Sneed, a pharmacist with USF Health. “Up until now we probably didn’t think we needed something this rapid.”

Sneed says USF Health provided the platform for this device to be used in clinic trials. He believes this technology could go the distance based of the results he’s seen. 

“You can put this into schools, you can put it into airports, you can put it into pharmacies, and the mobility of the technology means you’ll be inhibited and you won’t have to send anything out to a laboratory,” he said.

FDA approval could come in a matter of weeks.