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Saturday, June 19, 2021

New Covid testing method gives results in 1 second: study

Researchers from the University of Florida and Taiwan’s National Chiao Tung University have developed a rapid and sensitive testing method for Covid-19 biomarkers. Their sensor system provides detection within one second.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: May 25, 2021 7:16:01 am
A sample is taken from a person for Covid-19 testing in Kolkata. (Express Photo: Partha Paul)

At a time when heavy caseloads of Covid-19 infection are overwhelming healthcare systems in various countries, including India, innovative methods for self-testing can provide an alternative that can reduce the burden and also save time. In India, for example, the ICMR recently approved a self-test kit that can deliver results for infection in 15 minutes.

Researchers from the University of Florida and Taiwan’s National Chiao Tung University, meanwhile, have developed a rapid and sensitive testing method for Covid-19 biomarkers. Their sensor system provides detection within one second. The system is described in a study In the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology B.

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“This could alleviate slow Covid-19 testing turnaround time issues,” Minghan Xian, study author and a doctoral candidate at the University of Florida, is quoted as saying in a press release from the American Institute of Physics, which publishes the journal.

Schematic diagram of Covid-19 sensor strip and the printed circuit board fabricated to produce a digital sensor output. (Source: Minghan Xian et al via American Institute of Physics)

Detecting the presence of the virus requires amplifying the numbers of the biomarker (such as the copies of viral RNA in the common RT-PCR technique for Covid-19 detection) or amplifying the binding signal for a target biomarker. The group uses the second technique. The test uses a biosensor strip that is similar to commercially available glucose test strips in shape. At the tip is a small microfluidic channel to introduce the 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,” Xian is quoted as saying.

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 must be discarded after use, the test circuit board is reusable. This means the cost of testing may be greatly reduced.

Source: American Institute of Physics

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