mLife, a privately held company in Marshall, has launched the mLife True device from concept to production within 30 days. It is a coronavirus test kit, which is designed to be used anywhere, without a medical practitioner.
The city of Marshall is working to help mLife continue onto next steps with their kits, by utilizing the City of Marshall Cradle of Entrepreneurship program.
The cradle program was created as a portion of the city’s 2019 Mobilize Marshall plan, based on citizen input. The goal of the program is to create avenues for business growth within Marshall.
Alan R. Loudermilk, CEO of mLife Diagnostics, said that the test is an oral swab, as a way to avoid the invasive and sometimes painful nasal swab that is currently utilized in COVID testing.
Loudermilk said that due to his business experience and relationships he was already aware of the Cradle of Entrepreneurship program, which is designed to grow business from incubation to accelerators and then finally into thriving companies.
This new program is assisting mLife in the recruitment of testing subjects as a component of the Cradle program, and helping mLife collect data for submission to the FDA as part of the approval process for an at-home kit.
“I was already aware of them, and then it just worked out that I was then able to take advantage of the programs already in place,” Loudermilk said. “Their role is unique because they are helping us make connections and form relationships with the community to help us get the testing that we need done.”
Loudermilk said that an ideal situation would be to form a relationship with a large group testing facility, whether at a community center or organized by another group, that would allow the private company to test 30 patients with the virus and 30 patients without, using both the traditional nasal swab and mLife’s new oral swab. This group setting would also, ideally include a registered nurse or medical officer who has prescribed nasal swabs for likely symptomatic positives, and who are willing to try the much-less-invasive mLife True oral swab as a confirmation test.
“Having a government entity that is able to work with us provides a certain level of legitimacy that approaching these groups as a private company, we would not have,” he said.
Then after the initial swabs are taken, mLife will provide funding for the lab testing of the prescribed nasal swabs and the mLife oral swabs at the same time.
Through this initiative, mLife hopes to make more coronavirus testing available to the market as soon as possible, and the city would like to make this one of the first successes of their cradle program.
Visit mlifedx.com for more information. To register your facility’s interest in free testing participation, contact Stormy Nickerson, City of Marshall Communications Coordinator, at 903-934-7995.
How it works
Loudermilk previous explained that the kit works by taking the swab, which can be done by anyone, unlike the usual COVID-19 test that requires a medical professional.
The kit then instructs to firmly grip the mLife True collector tube in one hand with the bottom of the tube positioned on a firm surface. The saliva swab is then inserted into the vial to be sent to the labs.
And because the aim is to optimize the workflow for corona, Loudermilk said his company created a buffer for the kit.
“The first thing we did was we came up with this design, and then we also came up with a buffer, working with a partner that deactivates the virus,” the CEO said. “So, you have to assume everybody that you test is corona positive, so we assume that’s the case and we collect the specimen and deposit it in this vial. It has a viral deactivation, RNA preservation agent; so it kills the virus, but preserves its RNA, so that we can detect it.”
The sample is placed inside of a specimen bag, and triple bagged for further security.
It has a vial and a special preservative, and the specimen is delivered the next day to a lab with a capped bottle (resolving potential leak problems with other collectors). The current test is for the detection of the virus based on viral RNA detection. Antibody tests using the mLife True kit are under development. Results are expected within about 24 hours.