This is intended to resolve emergency bottlenecks to be resolved in tests for Covid-19. The key milestones in testing the swabs were achieved by researchers from the USF Health Faculty in the Departments of Radiology and Infectious Diseases in collaboration with Northwell Health. These included validation testing (24 hours, 3 days and leeches) and rapid clinical testing at Northwell Health and Tampa General Hospital. All tests showed that the 3D printed nasal swabs performed as well as standard swabs used for Covid-19 testing.
After determining that the nasal swabs used to test for COVID-19 were in high demand and the supply was extremely limited, a team from USF Health's 3D Clinical Applications Department created a preliminary design. The team worked with Northwell Health and Formlabs to develop prototypes and safe materials for a 3D printed alternative. Within a week, the teams jointly developed a nasal swab prototype and tested it in the USF Health and Northwell Health laboratories. Within two days, USF Health and Northwell Health developed prototypes using Formlabs' 3D printers and biocompatible, sterilizable resins. The swabs were tested for patient safety and comfort by physicians from Northwell Health, USF Health and Tampa General Hospital. Once clinical validation is complete, USF Health and Northwell Health's 3D printers will produce the swabs and make them available to their patients.
"During the current COVID 19 outbreak, there is little time for delays, and the rapid, agile and skilled action of all parties involved will greatly improve testing opportunities for patients," said Charles J. Lockwood, MD, MHCM, senior vice president of USF Health and dean of USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.
"With the printed 3D swabs, we will be able to expand the test kits developed here at USF Health by thousands of swabs per day and test more patients safely and effectively," said Dr. Summer Decker, Associate Professor at USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Director of 3D Clinical Applications in the Radiology Department of USF Health.
According to Max Lobovsky, CEO and co-founder of the company, Formlabs now offers a viable solution to the current shortage of nasopharyngeal swabs (NP): "Formlabs can now manufacture them on a large scale to help hospitals better treat patients.”