IOWA CITY — Integrated DNA Technologies, a University of Iowa spinoff in Coralville, is “doing its part in the fight” against COVID-19 by producing and providing kits to research and test for the novel coronavirus first detected in China that’s now infected more than 109,500.
“IDT has received inquiries from researchers from around the world who are interested in rapidly obtaining assays and developing vaccines targeting the novel coronavirus,” according to the 33-year-old company that based in the UI Research Park.
No vaccines or drugs currently exist to treat or prevent COVID-19, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said investigational vaccines and treatments are under development.
Anna Blyth, a spokeswoman for IDT, in a statement said that “we have scaled production and delivered sufficient quantities of IDT product to enable testing of over 700,000 individuals for coronavirus using the Center for Disease Control’s 2019-noV CDC test protocol.”
The company — founded by a UI biochemistry professor in 1987 and comprised largely of scientists — is aiding in COVID-19 detection and vaccine development by preparing kits using the coronavirus genome, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Chinese government sequenced and submitted to a U.S. National Institutes of Health genetic sequence database.
“With our worldwide manufacturing capabilities, IDT is uniquely able to provide robust … assays while avoiding contamination issues from synthesis of controls and related gene fragments,” according to the company, which has its headquarters here but has production sites in San Diego, Belgium and Singapore. It also has sales offices in Australia, South Korea and Japan and reports serving more than 120,000 researchers in over 100 countries.
The lab is working with the CDC and Food and Drug Administration on COVID-19-related test and research materials “to ensure ongoing supply to meet demand,” according to Blyth, who said the company is on track to release more products.
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“IDT has additional inventory available and stands ready to ship sufficient quantities of IDT products to enable testing of additional individuals,” according to the statement from Blyth.
The company is selling testing kits for $125 each and research-only kits for $50 to $100 apiece, and reports receiving inquiries from researchers across the globe.
“In response to heavy demand for products related to coronavirus research, we are directing these requests to a dedicated channel to facilitate expedited support, preferred pricing, and priority shipping,” according to a message that pops up for visitors to the firm’s website.
Although state officials have not said exactly how much patient tests costs, Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday all major insurance companies in Iowa have agreed to waive cost-shares and copays for COVID-19 testing.
Testing has been an issue of debate and concern as initial kits had glitches and weren’t widely available, prompting the federal government in February to allow some private labs to produce tests.
Through its UI-based State Hygienic Lab, the state of Iowa has as of Tuesday evening confirmed 13 cases of COVID-19 in Iowa — 12 of them among Johnson County residents who went on a trip together.
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