The Swab56 Project is a collaborative effort between the teams at Neurophotometrics and the San Diego COVID-19 Research Enterprise Network (SCREEN). In March 2020, Neurophotometrics joined SCREEN to contribute our expertise in 3D printing to help create a viable alternative to the commercially available Nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs that are in critically short supply.
We rapidly iterated through 55 prototypes over the course of 36 hours before reaching the final design — our namesake swab #56. In total, across clinical studies of 38 adult and pediatric patients, our swabs have had a 100% validation rate with no mechanical failures or adverse events during sampling from over 50 volunteers.
To ensure the safety and efficacy of our swabs, the Swab56 Project conducted validation studies at UC San Diego and Rady Children’s Hospital. After steam sterilization at 270°F for a standard 4 minute cycle, our swabs underwent clinical testing.
These tests showed that our 3D printed swabs appeared to more effectively capture samples sufficient for positive viral detection than the commercially available swabs. They were also exceptionally sensitive: the swabs developed by the Swab56 Project successfully detected in COVID-19 in 4/4 patients with a CAP/CLIA+ COVID-19 test in the past 3-14 days and positively identified single virus infections in Respiratory Viral Panels performed on 5/5 patients. The commercial flocked swabs detected positive results in 2/4 and 3/5 patients in the same tests, respectively.
Since these exciting results, our team has been working furiously to bring a new source of NP swabs to market and make them accessible to the healthcare providers who desperately need them.