Rutgers Scientists Develop New Rapid COVID Tests

Scientists at Rutgers University have announced the development of a new PCR-based rapid test for three quickly spreading variants of COVID-19 first identified in Great Britain, South Africa, and Brazil.

The researchers are not seeking a patent for their work and instead have published instructions for creating and running the test online due to a belief in the importance of widely available testing.

The test uses “sloppy molecular beacon probes,” which are specific, sensitive DNA sequences used to detect frequent mutations in organisms. Results from the test are available within one hour.

The researchers expect to improve on the test so that it can distinguish among the three variants and be adapted to test for additional variants that may emerge.

Researchers who worked on the test include David Alland, Padmapriya Banada, Soumitesh Chakravorty, Raquel Green and Sukalyani Banik. Rutgers scientists had previously developed a saliva-collection test for COVID that is now widely used.

“This rapid test was developed and tested over a few weeks in a crash program to respond to a serious public health need,” said Alland, director of the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School Public Health Research Institute and professor and chief of infectious disease at Rutgers NJMS, in a statement.

“Despite our hurry to get the test completed, it performed extremely well with clinical samples in our initial studies. We are very pleased with these results and we hope that this test will help in the control of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic.”

Expansion

Princeton Junior School, 3270 Lawrenceville Road, Princeton 08540. 609-924-8126. Silvana Clark, head of school. www.princetonjuniorschool.org.

With the acquisition of a neighboring property, Princeton Junior School has expanded its campus and made plans to add a sixth grade class.

The private co-educational school, which currently serves ages two through grade five, was founded in a church basement in 1983 and ultimately settled on seven acres of a former tomato farm in Lawrence Township. The property was shared with a family who owned the remaining three acres for the past 28 years, and the school was given first right of refusal when the family opted to sell its property in early 2020.

The purchase was made possible by a donation from Steve Ginzbarg, a friend of Head of School Silvana Nazzaro Clark. A theater set to occupy an existing barn on the property as part of a new performing arts center will be named for Ginzbarg’s late mother.

“The timing and generosity of this gift aligned perfectly with our vision to optimize the childhood experience, rooted in the school’s mission and history,” Princeton Junior School board president Rob Robertson said in a statement. “We have been poised to expand the facilities for the past several years. This generous gift from the Ginzbarg family has allowed us to do that, without having to compromise the aesthetic of the PJS learning oasis.”

Other additions to the campus include a new sports pavilion being installed this spring, a STEM shop, and possible future plans for an atrium swimming pool.

Additionally, the school’s current fifth graders will become its first class of sixth graders in fall, 2021.

Partnership

Princeton Identity, 300 Horizon Drive #308, Hamilton 08691. 609-256-6994. Bobby Varma, CEO. www.princetonidentiy.com.

Princeton Identity, Hamilton-based specialists in biometric technology, has partnered with Abu Dhabi-based Future Trend LLC to launch a touchless time and attendance access and tracking system.

The system combines Princeton Identity’s Access200 products, which have iris readers and temperature sensors, with Future Trend’s Obo Milenio software, which offers reports on time, attendance, payroll, and other employee data from a centralized human resources platform.

In a statement, Princeton Identity CEO Bobby Varma called it “an evolution of our portfolio for the modern workplace.”

“The collaboration with Future Trend leverages biometric technology to create a seamless experience for employees as they navigate their day-to-day activities, while allowing companies to capture critical HR data,” she said.

“It’s part of our vision to expand the role of biometrics beyond access control into broader customized solutions for employees, visitors and other stakeholders across all industries.”

New in Town

Grow America Builders, a construction firm focused on the cannabis industry, has announced the start of work on the Lawrence location of Zen Leaf dispensary.

The dispensary, located in the Route 1 strip mall that formerly housed Toys R Us, is expected to open in early spring. The 4,000-square-foot space at 3256 Brunswick Pike will undergo a full interior and exterior renovation.

Zen Leaf has operations in nine states, including a second New Jersey location in Elizabeth.

For more information visit www.zenleafdispensaries.com.

Deaths

Helen Del Margio, 90, on March 6. The Pennington resident worked as a flight attendant, dance instructor, and photographer’s model before becoming coordinator of alumni affairs at The College of New Jersey.

Suzanne E. Dustin, 61, on March 3. She had a long career in real estate, most recently as manager of the Hopewell office of Berkshire Hathaway.

Henry W. Ryan Jr., 71, on March 5. He was a leader in the Mercerville Fire Company for more than 50 years and served as its last volunteer chief.

Antonio Stancati, 79, on March 6. He operated Antonion’s Custom Tailors and Dry Cleaning in Lawrenceville from 1989 to 2016.

Leonard Brigman on March 4. He worked at DeLaval Turbine and Princeton Plasma Physics Lab and retired from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

Andrew Liput, 92, on March 2. He was a master draftsman and journeyman welder at General Motors in Ewing for more than 35 years.

Carmine Armenti, 80, on March 1. He worked for City Service Oil Company and as a real estate agent for Doolen Realty and Gloria Nilson.

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