Startup pivots from roadside THC tests to focus on COVID-19

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An Idaho company is planning to pivot away from roadside cannabis testing to COVID-19 diagnostics. 

KTVB is reporting that Facible, a Boise-based startup that has been developing testing equipment to trace the amounts of CBD and THC in plants, is now focusing on coronavirus with tests that could be completed within minutes. 

With tests in short supply, Steven Burden, CEO of Facible, said that the tests are “different from anything else on the market right now in terms of how fast it is and how accurate it is.”

The process is sped up by the fact that, unlike typical testing machines, Facible’s technology does not test for antibodies.  

“It’s not the traditional test,” Burden told  KTVB. “It’s not a stereological test, meaning you don’t need blood for it so we’re not testing for antibodies — we’re actually testing for the presence of viral proteins.”

Burden said they would like to launch the technology by early June, but they first need to secure additional funding and complete clinical trials.

In the wake of COVID-19, the FDA approval process has been contracted, and Burden is hoping Facible benefits by being able to move ahead quickly. 

“We’re launching with COVID-19 because the regulations have dropped, they don’t have that year-long FDA approval process,” he said.

According to Harvard Business Review, the US is testing at a rate of five tests per million people. South Korea, for contrast, was testing at a rate of 4,000 tests per million people.

“Testing is the biggest problem that we’re facing,” Peter Slavin, president of Massachusetts General Hospital, said recently in a roundtable on Covid-19 at Harvard Medical School.

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