LONDON, ONT. -- Fanshawe College says it has developed a safe, quick and inexpensive method to identify the effectiveness of possible COVID-19 drug treatments.

Centre for Research and Innovation scientist Abdulla Mahboob has developed artificial copies of the coronavirus called replicons that can be transferred into mammalian cells.

They contain all the non-structural genes of the virus, but don't have the genes allowing the virus to become infectious.

This allows testing of new drug therapies against the replicon outside of more expensive laboratories, a major upside for pharmaceutical companies.

“We are ready to work with a commercial partner who can actively participate in this venture to take our proof-of-concept success from our small college lab to large-scale application,” says Mahboob in a news release.

“Our development, called the ‘Flexicon’, can make treatment testing much faster and more accessible to many labs around the world.”