Canon's medical division has announced that it is commencing development of a rapid genetic testing system for novel coronavirus.
Canon Medical Systems Corporation, in cooperation with Nagasaki University, is taking part in the research program led by the Japan Agency for Medical Research, which is focused on producing diagnostic tools for the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The news comes following the recent breakthrough made by Fujifilm's medical division (opens in new tab) in producing a drug that successfully treats coronavirus.
It all serves as a valuable reminder that some of the major camera and optics companies, such as Canon, Fujifilm and Olympus, actually have sizable medical divisions that are as (or, in this case, even more) important than the imaging businesses that they are better known for.
The official statement from Canon Medical is as follows:
Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today announced that Canon Medical Systems Corporation (Canon Medical) announced the start of development of a rapid genetic testing system for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), reaffirming Canon Medical's commitment to the basic research and development of rapid diagnostic test kits. This project is part of a research program focusing on the development of diagnostic methods for COVID-19 led by the Japan Agency for Medical Research.
Canon Medical was selected to participate in this research program in cooperation with Nagasaki University. This was in recognition of Canon Medical's strength in leveraging its technologies in delivering practical solutions to support medical emergencies, notably by supplying Ebola rapid test kits to the Republic of Guinea in 20152, donating Ebola rapid test kits to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2019, and through the manufacturing approval and sale of the Genelyzer KIT (a reagent kit for Zika virus RNA testing) in 2018.
The test and the reagents being developed for COVID-19 RNA testing is based on the LAMP method developed by Eiken Chemical Co., Ltd., and are to be used with a compact isothermal amplified gene fluorescent detector manufactured by Canon Medical to detect the presence of virus. Compared to the conventional test method of real-time PCR, the LAMP method allows for detection of the virus to be performed more easily and quickly, which makes it suitable for testing in local areas where infection is prevalent.
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