Noninvasive saliva tests could detect COVID-19 antibodies

KENT, Wash. — There's a potential coronavirus breakthrough to see if you already have the coronavirus antibodies.

We’ve all seen the nose swabs for testing. But a company based in Kent has found a less invasive way to test for antibodies to COVID-19.

The only thing they need to test is saliva.

Inside an unassuming building in Kent, scientists are doing potentially groundbreaking work using the most common of human secretions, saliva.

“Other diseases and illnesses (are) diagnosed from saliva,” says Dr. Maroun El Khoury, owner of DiagnosTechs.

Dr. El Khoury is known around the world for his pioneering work in pharmaceutical research and testing.

So back in December when China was the first country struggling with COVID-19, he decided to test a theory that saliva might show antibodies even in those who are showing no symptoms.

“And it’s noninvasive,” Khoury said. “The beauty of it is it’s medicine in time. You can spit 30 times here. And I can watch your hormones.”

Or, in this case, antibodies to COVID-19.

Just three years ago, Dr. El Khoury was fearful that his company might not survive.

His longtime accountant had stolen millions of dollars for his own personal use. David Mai was sentenced to eight years in prison.

But DiagnosTechs did survive.

Now the company is adapting the test kit it has been using for years, a spit kit, if you will, so it can be used to find COVID-19 antibodies.

Ning Cegielski, DiagnosTechs lab manager, says it has already worked in an asymptomatic patient. “And they went ahead, got the virus testing,” she said. “And they actually positive. (And) no symptoms.”

These tests are not yet available for commercial use.

More samples have to be taken using their methodology to validate the results. They say they want to get it right before it goes on the market. That could come in one to three months.