West Liberty, W.Va. (WTRF) — When this pandemic began showing red flags at the start of the year, many schools and businesses were deciding how to respond. But a university in our own backyard saw an opportunity to help.
It took three people from West Liberty University to help make rapid testing now available; an alumnus with a prophetic mission, a micro-biology professor, and an international student.
All coming together to help.
Maybe before we were fully aware of it, of how serious this was in China, he (Dr. Kinder) was. It’s probably already here in the U.S., we just don’t realize it yet.Dr. Joseph Horzempa, Professor of Biology at WLU
Since February, WLU alumnus, Dr. Fred Kinder, has been working to get China’s rapid COVID-19 testing on U.S. soil. Owning a medical device known as eHealthcare, Kinder was familiar with a rapid test developed by the Chinese company, Ustar. So, he reached out to his alma mater to help get the kits vetted through FDA safeguards.
A lot of this document was filled out of the Chinese equivalent of the FDA. So, they sent us their documents. We had a Chinese student from West Liberty, Yijing Shen, she translated those documents. And so I took the translated documents and adapted it, from what I got on Ustar’s website, to complete the FDA application, the technical portion, of the test kit.Dr. Joseph Horzempa, Professor of Biology at WLU
Missing pieces completed in a couple days.
So, why is the testing just now getting out in April?
That did take some time with the back and forth with Fred, Ustar, and the FDA before he could get the kits to West Virginia.Dr. Joseph Horzempa, Professor of Biology at WLU
Through a simple nasal swab, in minutes, results. This would be helping clinics in West Virginia move fast.
Reagents in the kit allow for rapid multiplication of pieces of Covid-19 genetic material.
When those are multiplied and amplified very quickly, a florescent signal is given off. That florescent signal is detected by a machine. And that’s when you get the positive or negative value.Dr. Joseph Horzempa, Professor of Biology at WLU
But the task wasn’t complete yet. Kinder still needed a clinical lab to validate the test.
So, WLU reached out to their connections with Cabell Huntington Hospital.
I don’t know if there are other rapid tests in West Virginia. I know we helped get this to the hospital in Huntington, W.Va.
I’m a micro biologist. I don’t do clinical research. I’m typically in the lab doing basic science with my students. So, this was something out of my wheel-house, but when I was given the opportunity, I just tried to help.Dr. Joseph Horzempa, Professor of Biology at WLU
The WLU professor says this is a teaching moment for him and his students.
If you have an opportunity to help out, say yes. It may just save lives.
We had an alumnus of West Liberty University, faculty and administrators at West Liberty University working together, and we had current students at West Liberty working together. You could see how this community is all in it together.
Dr. Joseph Horzempa, Professor of Biology at WLU
People who are hill-toppers totally understand that and get that. How close knit the people of West Liberty are. When I first started at West Lib, everyone described it as a family. It is a family.
And as for Dr. Kinder, he plans to start distributing the Ustar kits in the coming week.