Scientists from the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) developed an experimental diagnostic test for COVID-19 that can visually detect the presence of the virus in 10 minutes. It uses a simple assay containing plasmonic gold nanoparticles to detect a color change when the virus is present. The test does not require the use of any advanced laboratory techniques, such as those commonly used to amplify DNA, for analysis.
Once a nasal swab or saliva sample is obtained from a patient, the RNA is extracted from the sample via a simple process that takes about 10 minutes. The test uses a highly specific molecule attached to the gold nanoparticles to detect a particular protein. This protein is part of the genetic sequence that is unique to the novel coronavirus. When the biosensor binds to the virus’s gene sequence, the gold nanoparticles respond by turning the liquid reagent from purple to blue.
“The accuracy of any COVID-19 test is based on being able to reliably detect any virus. This means it does not give a false negative result if the virus actually is present, nor a false positive result if the virus is not present,” said Dr. Pan. “Many of the diagnostic tests currently on the market cannot detect the virus until several days after infection. For this reason, they have a significant rate of false negative results.”
Dr. Pan created a company called VitruVian Bio to develop the test for commercial application. He plans to have a pre-submission meeting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within the next month to discuss requirements for getting an emergency use authorization for the test. New FDA policy allows for the marketing of COVID-19 tests without requiring them to go through the usual approval or clearance process. These tests do, however, need to meet certain validation testing requirements to ensure that they provide reliable results.
The current outbreak of the pandemic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) demands its rapid, convenient, and large-scale diagnosis to downregulate its spread within as well as across the communities. But the reliability, reproducibility, and selectivity of majority of such diagnostic tests fail when they are tested either to a viral load at its early representation or to a viral gene mutated during its current spread. In this regard, a selective “naked-eye” detection of SARS-CoV-2 is highly desirable, which can be tested without accessing any advanced instrumental techniques. We herein report the development of a colorimetric assay based on gold nanoparticles (AuNPs), when capped with suitably designed thiol-modified antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) specific for N-gene (nucleocapsid phosphoprotein) of SARS-CoV-2, could be used for diagnosing positive COVID-19 cases within 10 min from the isolated RNA samples. The thiol-modified ASO-capped AuNPs agglomerate selectively in the presence of its target RNA sequence of SARS-CoV-2 and demonstrate a change in its surface plasmon resonance. Further, the addition of RNaseH cleaves the RNA strand from the RNA–DNA hybrid leading to a visually detectable precipitate from the solution mediated by the additional agglomeration among the AuNPs. The selectivity of the assay has been monitored in the presence of MERS-CoV viral RNA with a limit of detection of 0.18 ng/μL of RNA having SARS-CoV-2 viral load. Thus, the current study reports a selective and visual “naked-eye” detection of COVID-19 causative virus, SARS-CoV-2, without the requirement of any sophisticated instrumental techniques.
SOURCES – ACS Nano, University of Maryland School of Medicine
Written by Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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