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Superfast, Portable COVID-19 Testing Method Detects SARS-CoV-2 Within One Second

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 19 May 2021
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Image: Schematic and photograph of COVID-19 sensor strip and the printed circuit board fabricated to produce a digital sensor output (Photo courtesy of Minghan Xian, Hao Luo, Xinyi Xia, Chaker Fares, Patrick H. Carey IV, Chan-Wen Chiu, Fan Ren, Siang-Sin Shan, Yu-Te Liao, Shu-Min Hsu, Josephine F. Esquivel-Upshaw, Chin-Wei Chang, Jenshan Lin, Steven C. Ghivizzani, and Stephen J. Pearton)
Image: Schematic and photograph of COVID-19 sensor strip and the printed circuit board fabricated to produce a digital sensor output (Photo courtesy of Minghan Xian, Hao Luo, Xinyi Xia, Chaker Fares, Patrick H. Carey IV, Chan-Wen Chiu, Fan Ren, Siang-Sin Shan, Yu-Te Liao, Shu-Min Hsu, Josephine F. Esquivel-Upshaw, Chin-Wei Chang, Jenshan Lin, Steven C. Ghivizzani, and Stephen J. Pearton)
A new superfast, portable COVID-19 testing method detects the SARS-CoV-2 virus much faster than the currently available methods.

Researchers from the University of Florida (Gainesville, FL, USA) and National Chiao Tung University (Hsinchu, Taiwan) have developed a rapid and sensitive testing method for COVID-19 biomarkers. The researchers, who previously demonstrated detection of biomarkers relevant in epidemics and emergencies, such as the Zika virus, heart attacks, and cerebral spinal fluid leaks, leveraged their expertise to develop a sensor system that provides detection within one second, which is far faster than current COVID-19 detection methods.

Detecting the presence of the virus requires amplifying the numbers of the biomarker, such as the copies of viral ribonucleic acid in the common polymerase chain reaction technique for COVID-19 detection, or amplifying the binding signal for a target biomarker. The group’s method amplifies the binding signal for a target biomarker. During measurement, sensor strips are connected to a circuit board via a connector, and a short electrical test signal gets sent between the gold electrode bonded with COVID antibody and another auxiliary electrode. This signal is then returned to the circuit board for analysis. While the system’s sensor strips clearly must be discarded after use, the test circuit board is reusable which means that the cost of testing may be greatly reduced.

“This could alleviate slow COVID-19 testing turnaround time issues,” said Minghan Xian, an author and a chemical engineering doctoral candidate at the University of Florida. “Our biosensor strip is similar to commercially available glucose test strips in shape, with a small microfluidic channel at the tip to introduce our test fluid. Within the microfluidic channel, a few electrodes are exposed to fluid. One is coated with gold, and COVID-relevant antibodies are attached to the gold surface via a chemical method.”

Related Links:
University of Florida
National Chiao Tung University


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