‘Portable saliva test could detect Covid-19 in 60 seconds’

‘Portable saliva test could detect Covid-19 in 60 seconds’

New York: Rapid testing is the norm for containing the novel coronavirus spread. However, the traditional Covid-19 testing involves mild invasive swab collection and the wait for results will be upto a week. What if a potable saliva test could detect the Covid-19 in 60 seconds?

A researcher from the University of Utah, US, is developing a portable, reusable sensor for Covid-19 test that involves just a drop of saliva and the result produced in a minute. The technology, developed by Dr Massood Tabib-Azar, Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor, was profiled in two research papers published in the IEEE Sensors Journal.

The sensor, about the size of a quarter, can be mounted even on a cellphone and the technology is the advancement of the prototype that Dr Tabib-Azar originally worked on a year ago to detect Zika virus.

“It can be made to be a standalone device, but can also be connected to a cellphone. Once you have it connected either wirelessly or directly, you can use the cellphone software and processor to give a warning if you have the virus,” he was quoted as saying in the University portal.

The sensor uses single-strand DNA called aptamers that will attach to the proteins in the Covid-19 virus molecule if present. To test for the virus presence, the user will have to place a drop of saliva on the sensor, and the results will appear on the phone.

If the virus is present, the DNA strands in the sensor will bind to the virus’ proteins and an electrical resistance is measured in the device, signaling a positive result. The sensor includes an array of tiny devices inside it, each with a DNA strand that looks for a different protein. A specific combination of proteins will be unique to just Covid-19, he claimed.

“By increasing the number of devices and single-strand DNA, we can increase the sensor’s accuracy and reduce the false positives and false negatives,” Dr Tabib-Azar added.

The sensor is designed to be reusable because it can destroy the previous sample on it by producing a small electrical current that could heat up and remove or disintegrate the virus.

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