Researchers have developed a new approach to coronavirus testing, creating the...
Researchers have developed a new approach to coronavirus testing, creating the first hand-held, battery-powered testing device that can yield accurate results in half an hour. The device can simultaneously test for multiple genes, researchers report.
Source: L. Brian Stauffer

New Covid-19-test: portable, fast, accurate

Researchers from the University of Illinois have developped a new coronavirus test, that can get accurate results from a saliva sample in less than 30 minutes. Many of the components of the hand-held device used in this technology can be 3D-printed, and the test can detect as little as one viral particle per 1-microliter drop of fluid.

"We developed a rapid, highly sensitive and accurate assay, and a portable, battery-powered device for Covid-19 testing that can be used anywhere at any time," said University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Huimin Zhao, who led the research. Though it is still in the prototype stage, the device is estimated to cost less than $78 and the reagents and other materials needed for testing would amount to $6-$7 per test, the researchers found.                  

Current coronavirus testing technologies are complex, expensive, time-consuming and require bulky equipment and expert analysts, whereas the new device can be operated by anyone with minimal training who is careful when loading samples, Zhao said.

The innovation was made possible by the recent discovery in Zhao's laboratory of a system for making artificial restriction enzymes that can be programmed to recognize and cleave specific genes in an organism's genome. In the new device, these enzymes carry DNA guides that tag the viral genes of interest. The enzyme cleaves the genes, which have been tagged with a dye that fluoresces only after the genes are cut. The resulting fluorescence signals that those genes are present — a positive test result.

The new technology, called Scalable and Portable Testing, does away with the complicated process of heating and cooling each sample to get results, as many current testing protocols require. SPOT also can detect multiple genes per sample, making it more accurate than single-gene tests, which can yield incorrect or inconclusive results. Another advantage is that it utilizes saliva, which is easier to collect and less invasive than a nasal swab.

The research team tested SPOT using 104 clinical saliva samples.They found that it accurately identified 28 out of 30 SARS-CoV-2-positive samples and 73 of 74 SARS-CoV-2-negative samples. "Based on the data reported in the literature, the accuracy of our test is comparable to or better than other SARS-CoV-2 tests," Zhao said.

The researchers also tested SPOT with samples containing—or lacking—the influenza virus, the new coronavirus and three other human coronaviruses. It accurately identified samples containing the new coronavirus, whether or not other viruses were present in the sample.

"We are interested in exploring this technology for detection of other diseases as well," Zhao said. "One key advantage to this technology is its multiplexing capability, so in principle, we can detect many viruses simultaneously using the same device."                                                                                                      

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related articles

A new medical device for monitoring vital signs

A new medical device for monitoring vital signs

A new device consisting of a 3D-printed wristband can remotely monitor patients' vital signs, such as body temperature, oxygen saturation, pulse, and respiratory rate.

Device could support multiple COVID-19 patients from one ventilator

Device could support multiple COVID-19 patients from one ventilator

3D printing fuels efforts to rapidly increase ventilator capacity while providing each patient on vent support with individually tailored gas pressures and pressure monitoring.

The risks of using 3D printing to make PPE

The risks of using 3D printing to make PPE

A researcher provides caution on the use of 3D printing to make masks and other PPE for individuals on the front lines of the Covid-19 crisis.

Stereotactic systems from the 3D printer

Stereotactic systems from the 3D printer

Researchers have developed a way of manufacturing stereotactic systems from plastic using a 3D printer – a cost-effective method that opens up new design potential.

Ink residue inhibits conductivity in 3D printed electronic

Ink residue inhibits conductivity in 3D printed electronic

Very thin layers of organic stabilizer residue in metal nanoparticle (MNP) inks are behind a loss of conductivity in 3D printed materials and electronic devices.

3D printing enable new range of diagnostic tests

3D printing enable new range of diagnostic tests

A new 3D printing technique that extends the possibilities of lateral flow testing. With the printing technique, advanced diagnostic tests can be produced that are quick, cheap, and easy to use.

Organoids grown in 3D-printed bioreactor

Organoids grown in 3D-printed bioreactor

Scientists have grown small amounts of self-organizing brain tissue, known as organoids, in a tiny 3D-printed system that allows observation while they grow and develop.

A Covid-19 resistant material for 3D printing

A Covid-19 resistant material for 3D printing

Researchers have developed an antiviral material made from copper, silver and tungsten which can be 3D printed and kills the Covid-19 virus.

Device rapidly creates 3D images of skin

Device rapidly creates 3D images of skin

A portable 3D printed device produces high-resolution 3D images of human skin within 10 minutes. It could be used to assess the severity of skin conditions.

Popular articles

Subscribe to Newsletter