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New COVID-19 Test Uses Nanotube-Based Electrochemical Biosensor for Rapid Detection of SARS-CoV-2 Virus in 30 Seconds

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 16 Oct 2020
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Image: Testing a nanotube-based electrochemical biosensor (Photo courtesy of University of Nevada)
Image: Testing a nanotube-based electrochemical biosensor (Photo courtesy of University of Nevada)
A new COVID-19 rapid test that uses a nanotube-based electrochemical biosensor has shown successful lab results by detecting the SARS-CoV-2 virus in about 30 seconds.

Engineers and virologists at the University of Nevada (Reno, NV, USA) have teamed up to develop a novel COVID-19 testing approach based on a similar technology used in the past for detecting tuberculosis and colorectal cancer as well as detection of biomarkers for food safety. Using their expertise in detecting a specific biomarker in the breath of tuberculosis patients using a metal functionalized nano sensor, the researchers have developed a SARS-CoV-2 test that does not require a blood sample and is run using a nasal swab or even exhaled breath, which has biomarkers of COVID-19. The developed approach also has the potential for diagnosis of other respiratory viral diseases by identifying appropriate metallic elements to functionalize nanotubes.

The researchers first synthesized and prepared the antigenic protein of COVID-19 virus in their laboratory, SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain protein, for the preliminary testing and determining the sensitivity of the nano sensor. The team developed co-metal functionalized nanotubes as a sensing material for electrochemical detection of the protein. They confirmed the biosensor’s potential for clinical application by directly analyzing the RBD of the Spike glycoprotein on the sensor. The team now plans to move to the next step of sensor validation on the actual COVID-19 patients swabs stored in the Viral Transport Medium (VTM) and have applied for funding to develop a specific and inexpensive point-of-care sensor for a rapid detection of COVID-19 virus in saliva or breath of infected individuals.

“This is Point of Care testing to assess the exposure to COVID-19. We do not need a laboratory setting or trained health care workers to administer the test. Electrochemical biosensors are advantageous for sensing purposes as they are sensitive, accurate and simple,” said Professor Misra, in the University’s College of Engineering Chemical and Materials Department.

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