A new rapid coronavirus test developed by KAUST scientists can deliver highly accurate results in less than 15 minutes.
The diagnostic, which brings together electrochemical biosensors with engineered protein constructs, allows clinicians to quickly detect bits of the virus with a precision previously only possible with slower genetic techniques. The entire set-up can work at the point of patient care on unprocessed blood or saliva samples; no laborious sample preparation or centralized diagnostic laboratory is required.
“The combination of state-of-the-art bioelectronic hardware, materials science engineering and synthetic biology protein design really makes it possible to simplify and accelerate coronavirus testing,” says Raik Grünberg, a biochemist at KAUST who co-led the study.
Grünberg and his KAUST colleagues, including Sahika Inal and Stefan Arold, are now working with commercial partners to adapt their lab-scale prototype. They hope to create a benchtop, portable device that can be deployed to help contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This biosensor technology could be adapted to detect other pathogens and, as such, will have a major impact on controlling pandemics — today and in the future,” Inal says.
Coronavirus testing remains as important as ever. Despite increasing rates of vaccination in Saudi Arabia and around the world, global case numbers of COVID-19 remain at worryingly high levels, and public health officials need ways of rapidly identifying individuals who have contracted the disease so that they can limit virus transmission.
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