Innovation Fund joins Auburn to support development of OraSecure saliva collection device for COVID testing

Innovation Fund joins Auburn to support development of OraSecure saliva collection device for COVID testing
The OraSecure saliva collection device is Alabama's latest volley in the fight against COVID-19. The Auburn-produced device will allow saliva testing with lower risk to sample collectors and laboratory workers. (contributed)

The Alabama Department of Commerce and the Auburn Industrial Development Board have teamed to award $250,000 in funding to accelerate the development of OraSecure LLC’s breakthrough patent-pending saliva collection device to help in the battle against the novel coronavirus.

The financial support will help OraSecure finalize the initial manufacturing run to begin mass producing and complete validation with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This funding comes at a key time in the development of the product and should allow the OraSecure device to begin rapidly assisting detection of COVID-19.

The Alabama Innovation Fund, administered by the Commerce Department, will provide $200,000 in funding, while the city of Auburn is providing $50,000 for OraSecure’s pilot program.

“The Alabama Innovation Fund is a key component in our efforts to spark the creation of high-impact Made in Alabama products by stimulating breakthrough research,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“With this support, we are helping OraSecure speed the development of a specimen collection device that can make a difference in the pandemic response while simultaneously raising the state’s profile in the bioscience industry.”

Safer testing

The OraSecure device is designed to facilitate a safer, more comfortable and less wasteful collection process for those seeking COVID-19 testing.

OraSecure was designed by five experts in the clinical and forensic testing industries after initial funding and support by Omega Laboratories Inc., a leading forensic drug testing laboratory with more than 20 years of industry experience.

Under Omega Laboratories’ leadership, OraSecure LLC was spun off as its own entity with the support of the city of Auburn and the state of Alabama. Initial operations will be based in Auburn.

OraSecure plans to offer the collection device as quickly as possible.

“It’s great to see innovative products being manufactured here in Auburn that will aid in public health efforts and the fight against COVID-19,” said Auburn Mayor Ron Anders. “OraSecure is a perfect example of the types of new technologies that we work to foster in our local businesses.”

Capabilities

An OraSecure spokesman said the city and people of Auburn feature a combination of expertise in biotech manufacturing, as well as the skills, resources and capabilities needed to begin rapidly progressing through prototyping and manufacturing.

As the development and manufacturing of OraSecure progresses, Omega’s development team and distribution network will be key in the commercialization of the product.

The OraSecure collection device is especially attractive to laboratories because of its unique vacuum-tube. OraSecure can be configured in single- and dual-tube options, and the vacuum tubes can be filled with a variety of buffers.

OraSecure can be customized for automated testing and provide a split-specimen for laboratories interested in performing both active virus and antibody testing from a single collection.

Unlike the current nasal swab collections, OraSecure is patient driven, with patients depositing their saliva directly into the device. The secured tubes can be safely transported to a laboratory and placed directly on automated equipment. This means that OraSecure greatly reduces the exposure risk to collectors and laboratory personnel.

Headquartered in Mogadore, Ohio, Omega Laboratories is a global leader in specialty drug testing, rapid alcohol testing, software solutions for clinical and forensic operations, and laboratory licensing. For more information on OraSecure, visit www.orasecure.com.

Innovation Fund

The Alabama Innovation Fund was created in 2012 as part of the Accelerate Alabama strategic plan to provide financial support for research and innovation-based commercialization in the state.

Projects are selected for funding based on job-creation potential, the likelihood of successful commercialization and additional research possibilities. The program is administered by the Alabama Department of Commerce.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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