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By Tim Hunt

Innovative fast COVID-19 test coming from downtown Livermore

Uploaded: Oct 27, 2020

The Livermore Valley has been renown for years for its technical workforce at Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National labs.

What’s developed in recent years is an amazing number of innovative companies—some with ties to the labs and others with well-educated and talented people pursuing their ideas.

One such firm is Livermore-based Kaya 17 that is focused on point-of-care testing solutions to diagnose various diseases. It recently submitted an emergency use authorization for its 15-minute solution to detect COVID-19 antigens using saliva. The federal Food and Drug Administration is currently reviewing the application and, if approved, Kaya 17 plans to manufacture and ship tests.

The test equipment can easily be located in schools, airports physician’s office or factory and provide rapid testing instead of sending samples off to industrial labs for processing that takes days instead of minutes. New technology in molecular biology and electronic instrumentation enables the Kaya 17 machine that fits in a briefcase.

Local founder and CEO of Kaya17, Dr. Sulatha Dwarakanath, said in a press release: “Providing rapid, on-the-spot tests using a small instrument but with the same accuracy as PCR (polymerase chain reaction) required an entirely novel technology. This is the kind of test that is required to rapidly screen and isolate infected people to open up business and schools.”

Before founding Kaya 17, she worked in senior positions at Roche Molecular and Thermo Fisher Scientific in Pleasanton since 2017. Kaya 17 was founded in March 2020.
The company already has developed tests for cervical and ovarian cancer.

The company used Daybreak Labs in downtown Livermore (the former JCPenney store that became the ValleyCare Thrift Store for many years).

Brandon Cardwell, director of Daybreak, said in the release, “. “Kaya17 is an example of how the companies at Daybreak Labs apply their creativity in an environment rich with expertise so they can rise to meet the challenges to the health of our communities.”

This is the second Daybreak firm that I have covered. Buzzkill Labs also is developing a saliva-based test that will determine if a person is over the limit on the hallucinogen part of marijuana. When they bring that to market, law enforcement agencies will cheer because they currently must bring in a phlebotomist to draw blood from a suspected impaired driver.


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