Portable Microfluidic Platform Developed for Detecting Coronavirus Using Smartphone

April 28, 2020 | Biotechnology

Reading time: 5-6 minutes

To keep you updated on current Biotechnology industry news, Lab.Equipment has curated this interesting article from GEN – Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News for you:

Researchers headed by a team at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, have developed what they claim is an inexpensive, sensitive smartphone-based device that can detect viral and bacterial pathogens in about 30 minutes, and could be adapted to test for SARS-CoV-2. The platform comprises a cartridge-housed microfluidic chip that carries out isothermal amplification of viral nucleic acids from nasal swab samples, which are then detected using the smartphone camera. The investigators report on their use of the system to detect equine viruses as a non-biohazard surrogate for SARS-CoV-2, but say that when adapted to test for coronavirus, the smartphone accessory, costing about $50, could be used to reduce the pressure on testing laboratories during pandemics such as COVID-19.

“This test can be performed rapidly on passengers before getting on a flight, on people going to a theme park, or before events like a conference or concert,” said University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign electrical and computer engineering professor Brian Cunningham, PhD, who, together with bioengineering professor Rashid Bashir, PhD, led the development of the device. “Cloud computing via a smartphone application could allow a negative test result to be registered with event organizers or as part of a boarding pass for a flight. Or, a person in quarantine could give themselves daily tests, register the results with a doctor, and then know when it’s safe to come out and rejoin society.”

The multi-institutional researchers described their development and use of the device, in Lab on a Chip. The paper is titled, “Smartphone-Based Multiplex 30-minute Nucleic Acid Test of Live Virus from Nasal Swab Extract.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic has escalated, a “key failure” of health systems across every country has been the ability to rapidly and accurately diagnose disease, the... More of this in the GEN Blog.

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