RESEARCH & INNOVATION
HAVE LAB , WILL TRAVEL
Taking the fight to COVID-19 .
BY ERIKA JOHNSON ’ 11
THE DEVICE is small and sturdy , able to withstand a bumpy ride on a back road . You can ’ t say that for most laboratories , but that ’ s where the Fluxergy Analyzer is unique — a mighty mobile lab designed to serve diverse settings , from a remote town to a high-tech hospital . And given the prevalence of a virus like COVID-19 , versatility is key .
Fluxergy founders Tej Patel ’ 10 , MS ’ 12 , and Ryan Revilla ’ 10 first sought to solve a problem : How could laboratory tests be conducted on a remote farm , or in a small town with no infrastructure , or even right in a doctor ’ s office ? What if one compact tool could run a gamut of samples with a rapid result ?
“ If you have a large laboratory machine to process tests , it has to be in one dedicated spot with a team of people trained to use it ,” Revilla explains . “ Even if you can run a lot of samples at once , you still have to funnel all of those samples into that one place . There ’ s a whole supply chain involved , and there is inherently going to be a delay .”
The Fluxergy Analyzer has gone through a dozen iterations since it was first created in 2013 . Most recently , the team responded to the pandemic by enabling the system to perform a polymerase chain reaction ( PCR ) test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 . And results come back in an hour or less , far faster than most .
The development was particularly timely now that the need for regular testing is more critical than ever . “ Developing a new test was actually very easy for us because we used the existing laboratory technology on our platform ,” says Patel . “ It is scalable , so you can control up to 256 devices at one time via a tablet or computer to have surge capacity if needed .”
The Fluxergy team has correspondingly ramped up manufacturing , building a new facility at their headquarters in Irvine , Calif ., that will allow them to produce a minimum of 100,000 test cartridges a month , with the potential to grow to one million .
18 TRITON | FALL 2020