A new portable COVID-19 detection method detects virus infection much faster than currently available. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that there is an urgent need for technological innovation to detect, treat and prevent SARS-CoV-2 viruses, especially as urgent needs for detection remain.
In the Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology B, researchers from the University of Florida and Taiwan Jiaotong University reported on a fast and sensitive test method for COVID-19 biomarkers.
The researchers, who have previously demonstrated detection of biomarkers associated with epidemics and emergencies, such as the Zika virus, heart attacks, and cerebrospinal fluid leaks, have used their expertise to develop a sensor system that can be detected in a second, much faster than current COVID-19 tests.
Detecting the presence of a virus requires amplifying the number of biomarkers, such as viral RNA copies in common polymerase chain reaction techniques for COVID-19 detection, or amplifying the binding signal of the target biomarker. The team’s approach is to amplify the binding signal of the target biomarker.
The biosensor strip is shaped like a glucose test paper on the market, with a small microvillous channel at the top to introduce the test fluid. In the Microflex control channel, several electrodes are exposed to the liquid, one of which is coated with gold, and COVID-related antibodies are chemically attached to the gold surface.
During the measurement, the sensor strip is connected to a circuit board through a connector, and a short electrical test signal is transmitted between the gold electrode with the COVID antibody and the other auxiliary electrode, which is then returned to the board for analysis.
The sensor system uses a transistor to amplify the electrical signal and is then converted into a number on the screen, the size of which depends on the concentration of the antigen, the viral protein present in our test solution.
The device’s sensor strip must be discarded after use, but the test board is reusable, which means that the cost of testing can be significantly reduced and the versatility of the technology goes far beyond detecting COIVD-19.
By changing the type of antibody attached to the gold surface, the system can be reused to detect other diseases and can be used as a prototype of modular, inexpensive protein biomarker sensors for fast, real-time feedback in clinical applications, operating rooms, or homes.