Covid-19 shares number of symptoms with the common flu. Researchers are now developing a new sensor that can tell the difference between the two illnesses — and test for both simultaneously.
A dual test improves on current options in several ways. It’s more convenient for patients who wouldn’t have to get multiple tests done. It also saves time for medical personnel when resources are stretched. A dual test would also reduce the usage of nasal swabs – since one is needed for each Covid-19 or influenza test – amid a shortage of equipment.
The sensor is being developed at the Cockrell School of Engineering, University of Texas at Austin. Deji Akinwande, a professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering, recently received a grant from the US National Science Foundation for the work, the university said in a statement. They have developed a prototype device and are beginning the experimental process.
The sensor is the size of a micro USB drive and is infused with antibodies of both Covid-19 and influenza. One part of the device is sensitive only to the flu, while another part will react only to the coronavirus. The team has not determined yet how the test would be conducted, but it could be done via saliva samples.
The researchers are planning to use inactive samples of Covid-19 and influenza for initial testing of the device, and they will measure how well the sensor connects with the coronavirus’s spike proteins, which help it enter human cells by binding with them.
Source: University of Texas at Austin
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