New toolkit to detect COVID-19 virus efficiently and effectively

So, an at-home saliva-based testing platform has been developed that can provide results in 45 minutes or less, developed by Penn State researchers to bridge the gap between accuracy and precision. accuracy and convenience. In preliminary tests, the platform detected the COVID-19 virus with a sensitivity comparable to PCR tests. The results of this study were published in


Principal Investigator Weihua Guan, associate professor of electrical engineering and biomedical engineering at Penn State College of Engineering. “We wanted to create a viable alternative to PCR that people could use at home without having to endure invasive nasal testing.”

Research for a Time Saving Toolkit

The palm-sized test suite, in which an individual squirts into a cartridge and feeds it to a processing platform, was developed and achieved by Guan and his team. Within 45 minutes, the test results are sent to a custom Android app developed by the researchers.


The platform uses reverse transcriptase-mediated isothermal amplification, or RT-LAMP, for virus detection. First test device to heat saliva to 203 F, the temperature at which viral seed coats rupture and release their genetic material. The genetic material is then mixed with prepackaged reagents in a microfluidic cartridge.

Finally, the sample is cooled to 149 . F, triggers another chemical reaction in which a few viral molecules are multiplied into billions of copies, making the virus easier to identify. If the virus is present in the saliva sample, the user will receive a positive result on their connected smartphone app.

To test the setup, Guan and his team infused commercially purchased human saliva samples with inactivated COVID-19 virus particles and ran these samples through the prototype. They also tested a few patient samples. The platform correctly identified every virus positive or negative sample.

“We tested hundreds of samples and controlled for the number of COVID particles in each sample,” said Mr. Guan. “Our platform proved to be very sensitive to the presence of virus in both laboratory and clinical samples, with the criteria set by the PCR test as our benchmark.”

The researchers say they plan to continue testing their platform with more clinical COVID-19 samples through a collaboration with Yusheng Zhu, medical director of the Laboratory of Clinical and Experimental Chemistry. Automated Testing at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

In addition to more clinical testing, the researchers are also working to improve the test’s short shelf life, as the enzymes in the prototype break down at room temperature within three days of manufacture. The team is experimenting with reagent freeze-drying, a method of freeze-drying biological materials that could extend the shelf life of enzymes. According to Mr. Guan, preliminary results suggest that the method will allow RT-LAMP testing to last at least six months at room temperature in stores or in medicine cabinets at home.

The researchers have applied for a provisional patent on their device and say they plan to commercialize it, pending review and clinical testing by the US Food and Drug Administration. ready.

Suresh V. Kuchipudi, interim director of Penn State Animal Diagnostic Laboratory (ADL) and Dorothy Foehr Huck and J. Lloyd Huck Chair of Emerging Infectious Diseases, and Michele Yon, research technologist ADL study, collected clinical samples tested in this work. Other contributors include Zifan Tang, Aneesh Kshirsagar and Tianyi Liu, all Penn State doctoral students in electrical engineering, and Jiarui Cui, a Penn State undergraduate student in electrical engineering.

Source: Eurekalert

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