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New Rapid Molecular Test Detects Bacteria and Viruses With 93.33% Accuracy

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 28 Sep 2023
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Image: Researchers have developed a new rapid electronic diagnostic test for infectious diseases (Photo courtesy of 123RF)
Image: Researchers have developed a new rapid electronic diagnostic test for infectious diseases (Photo courtesy of 123RF)

In March of 2020, the World Health Organization declared that SARS-CoV-2, commonly known as the coronavirus, had reached pandemic status. Since that time, close to six million lives have been lost, and approximately two million new infections are being recorded globally each day. To manage outbreaks like COVID-19, which have a huge impact on both public health and the worldwide economy, there is a need for diagnostic tools that are quick, reliable, sensitive, and easily accessible. Scientists have now developed a new molecular test that can detect various bacteria and viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, setting the stage for better preparedness for future pandemics.

A research team at the University of Surrey (Surrey, UK) has developed a new molecular test, called ‘Electro-chemical LAMP’ (eLAMP). This test is not only affordable and rapid but also highly sensitive and can be administered either at home, in a general practitioner's office, or in a hospital lab. eLAMP shares the sensitivity of laboratory-based PCR tests, and when paired with a smartphone, can easily be conducted at home. The test converts the output of another PCR-like test known as LAMP into a simple electric current.

The device used for this electrochemical test is already quite small, and the research team plans to make it even more compact equivalent to the size of a memory stick that can be controlled through a smartphone app. This would enable patients to carry out the test at home and promptly send the results to healthcare services, aiding in monitoring the spread of infections. Additionally, the patients would receive immediate medical guidance. The test, when used on human blood, saliva, and nasal and throat swabs, demonstrated a detection accuracy of 93.33%. It also works efficiently at room temperature, generating results in just 45 minutes.

"A key lesson we took from the COVID-19 pandemic is how crucial rapid, effective and cheap diagnostic tools that can be used at home are to monitoring and containing infectious diseases,” said Professor Johnjoe McFadden, corresponding author of the study and Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Surrey. “Our test meets these criteria and can detect lower amounts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus compared to other home-based tests. We are looking for commercial partners to further develop the test and take it to market."

"SARS-CoV-2 is likely to be around for a long time and, unfortunately, new difficult viruses are likely to emerge,” added Dr. Khushboo Borah Slater, co-author of the study from the University of Surrey. “It's crucial to keep working on better ways to test for the coronavirus, and our goal is to further develop our test so that it can be easily used everywhere to help control the disease and prevent future outbreaks."

Related Links:
University of Surrey 

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