The emergence of a novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in late 2019 has caused a worldwide health and economic crisis. Determining which members of the population are infected is key to re-opening of schools, universities, and non-essential businesses. To address this, researchers at UCI and UIC have developed an inexpensive point of care test using RNA aptamer technology for detecting COVID19 infected and immune patients that can be taken at home like a pregnancy test.
·Detecting an active SARS-CoV-2 infection in patient samples such as blood, saliva, etc.
·Detecting SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in patient samples
·Identifying SARS-CoV-2 immune people who can safely return to work
·Cost: RNA aptamers are simple and cheap compared to antibodies, which are typically used in diagnostic tests.
·Quantitation: electrochemical sensors are capable of sensitive quantification of their biomarkers.
·Scalability: diagnostic tests can be made quickly, cheaply, and in large quantities.
The emergence of a novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has caused a worldwide health and economic crisis. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 2.27 million people have been infected and 119,761 killed by COVID-19 in the U.S. as of June 23, 2020. People infected with the virus underlying COVID-19—SARS-CoV-2—can be asymptomatic, showing no outward symptoms of infection, making it easier to spread the virus. This has necessitated the partial or complete shutdown of non-essential businesses and statewide shelter-in-place orders. Schools, universities, and non-essential businesses cannot completely re-open under the COVID19 pandemic until population-wide identification of who is infected with SARS-CoV-2, and who is immune and can safely return to work.
During and after COVID-19 disease, patients develop antibodies capable of recognizing and neutralizing SARS-CoV-2, making them immune to the virus. To identify these people, researchers at UCI and UIC have developed an inexpensive point of care test for detecting COVID19 infected and immune patients that can be taken at home like a pregnancy test. This diagnostic test uses RNA aptamer technology in a nano-biosensor device designed to detect biomarkers such as the Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and patient-derived antibodies. RNA aptamer technology saves time and money compared to traditional diagnostic devices and is readily scaled up to meet manufacturing demands.
Prototype in development. Researchers have constructed their electrochemical biosensor device and are testing its false negative and positive rates with synthetic samples. Researchers are also testing available RNA aptamers that bind SARS-CoV, a related virus that caused a disease outbreak in 2002.