Real Time PCR (qPCR), LAMP (Loop-mediated isothermal amplification) machine and thermal cycler (PCR) are essential tools used for COVID-19 testing.
Shingo and Mariko, two married Japanese hackers in Tokyo developed NinjaPCR years ago, NinjaLAMP in a week this April and now developing Ninja qPCR with helps from worldwide. Everything is opened and parts price is less than USD300. Let us share how it works and what problems they can solve.
What are the problems you aim to help solve with this project?:
Testing of infectious disease like COVID-19 should be done by professional health care workers but the bottleneck is not only the number of workers but also tools. qPCR machine is most needed but typical commercial qPCR costs USD20K-200K. Too pricy in most of situations like developing countries, cruise ships, expanding drive-thru test sites. Our current target kit parts price of Ninja qPCR is USD300 or less. If such affordable, easy to use qPCR doesn't exist, drastic ideas cannot be accelerated for example "Make one qPCR per every licensed health care workers" or "establish new medical license specialized for testing that can be acquired within a year"
What are some of the major challenges you have encountered and how did you address them?:
We don't have time because we're in quarantine rising 2 small (4yr and 1yr old) girls at home. We're software engineer and don't have background of biology required. We don't have access to commercial qPCR machine to compare the results. But after sharing our situation and plan on GitHub, hackers helped to host an event, joined as member worldwide. Now we don't have any problem that cannot be solved and project progresses so much faster than we have ever expected first.