Marshall man talks about oral coronavirus test he helped develop

East Texas News at 6.
Updated: May. 4, 2020 at 2:02 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MARSHALL, Texas (KLTV) - Lots of people aren’t fans of tests, but there is one out there that many would like to take: a coronavirus test.

KLTV spoke with an East Texan who says he has one the public can use, but first it has to be approved by the FDA.

Marshall’s Alan Loudermilk with mLife Diagnostics LLC says he has a much less invasive way to test for the coronavirus.

“It’s called the mLife True. It’s a collection device for saliva which we tried to optimize for detecting coronavirus,” Loudermilk said.

Optimize because when first developed earlier this year it was for drug testing.

“The customer base said we’re not so interested in drug testing right now, but we sure could use some help with the COVID problem,” Loudermilk said.

So mLife retooled. Loudermilk said it took about a month and was based on an oral swab.

“Rub it around the mouth, scrub the surfaces, get material out of the back of the throat, saturate a swab, put it into vials ready to go to the lab for testing,” Loudermilk said.

It’s made to absorb a good amount of saliva for a bigger test sample.

“And there is an indicator strip that tells, hey yeah, you’ve got enough so that gives you a good indication when you’ve collected that specimen,” Loudermilk said.

A test strip indicates red when the sample is large enough. It is then plunged into a vial which holds:

“A viral deactivation, RNA preservation buffer,” Loudermilk said.

He says that liquid would keep the virus from being contagious and preserve it for a few days. Then the vial is deemed safe for travel.

“We pressure test it to make sure it’s not going to leak and then we triple bag it before it’s sent to the lab,” Loudermilk said.

The company is based out of Marshall and the tests are manufactured in Minnesota. But before public use the FDA requires a test comparison using a swab test taken at the same time as the oral test.

“Thirty positive, thirty negative parallel tests, which means thirty positive people do the nasal swab, do our swab; the two samples go off to the lab and you get the same or better results for the oral swab as you did for the nasal swab,” Loudermilk said.

Other than that Loudermilk claims the tests are ready for use at home or by employers without using up a medical provider’s time, or using any PPE.

Loudermilk says they are working on a viable antibody test, but that one is not quite ready yet.

KLTVs Jamey Boyum has more on the test awaiting FDA approval

Copyright 2020 KLTV. All rights reserved.