‘Visually’ detect coronavirus in 10 minutes: Indian-origin scientist 

indica News Bureau-

Across the globe, the one common word we can all hear is ‘testing’. Every country, in their own unique way, is ramping up the coronavirus testing efforts. Many simple gadgets and innovations are popping up to help people identify the disease. But questions and skepticism surround may of those methods.

Here is a new promising new method with a lot of science-backed up to it. Now you can ‘visually’ detect the presence of coronavirus in a matter of 10 minutes, thanks to a team of US scientists led by an Indian-origin researcher.

This research team has developed an experimental diagnostic test for COVID-19 that can help medical workers identify the disease immediately.

Based out of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, these scientists developed the test that uses a simple assay containing plasmonic gold nanoparticles to detect a color change when the virus is present. No need for any advanced laboratory techniques, such as those commonly used to amplify DNA, for analysis.

“Based on our preliminary results, we believe this promising new test may detect RNA material from the virus as early as the first day of infection. Additional studies are needed, however, to confirm whether this is indeed the case,” said study leader Dipanjan Pan, professor of diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine and pediatrics.

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 is present, nor a false-positive result if the virus is not present,” informed Dr. Pan.

“This RNA-based test appears to be very promising in terms of detecting the virus,” said study co-author Matthew Frieman. Others in Dr. Pan’s team were research scientist Parikshit Moitra, research fellow Maha Alafeef, along with research fellow Ketan Dighe from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Currently, the test equipment available in the market provides results only after several days after the test is taken. This new process not only helps save time but also a whole lot of anxiety for those who take the test.

The authors published their work in the American Chemical Society’s nanotechnology journal ACS Nano.