DREXEL, MO (KCTV) - A Missouri company about an hour south of Kansas City is profiting off the coronavirus outbreak. They’ve developed technology that can test the air in a large room for microbes and germs in about an hour.
Sales have doubled in places of the world where the coronavirus is rampant.
“The major sales are in China and Korea right now, but starting to pick up in Europe,” CEO Dave Alburty said.
Innovaprep products have long been used for homeland security, and research purposes. Public health is a new focus.
Alburty helped develop anthrax monitoring systems for the postal service nearly two decades ago.
“But we’ve been in this battle with pathogens for millennium whether we’ve known it or not,” he said. “But now we’ve got the secret weapon. We’ve got instruments like these that can rapidly detect a threat.”
The major threat right now is of course COVID-19.
“People spread the virus before they even know they’re sick. The virus is spread by talking and breathing not just coughing and sneezing and so like many other viruses it can float on the air,” Alburty said.
The machine called “the Bobcat,” named after Drexel’s mascot, collects air and traps microbes and germs in a filter. A special foam solution turns the sample to liquid. Then another device concentrates the organisms in the liquid to a tiny, fraction of a drop, which can then be put into a third-party machine to detect what they are.
Innovaprep partners with a company called Biomeme, which identifies the organisms and sends the results straight to a cell phone.
“It amplifies the DNA, until there’s enough of the DNA of that organism to identify it,” Alburty explained.
The whole process takes less than two hours.
The military has been using the technology for years to detect for aerosolized threats in the air. Now Alburty sees how his technology could be used to make hospitals, cruise ships, and even office buildings safer.
“It’s good to know what’s in your environment because you can Purell your hands, but you can’t Purell your lungs,” he said.
Alburty has reached out to the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services and state health officials about the testing technology and has yet to hear back.