Test Coronavirus With Your Smartphone, Get Result In 30 Minutes! (How It Works?)
Results With Viral Load
The newly developed diagnostic test can not only generate a positive or negative result, in addition to that, it can also measure – the viral load.
The viral load is the concentration of virus in a given sample, as per the research published in the journal Cell.
Till now, all CRISPR diagnostics have required the viral RNA to be converted into DNA and needed to be amplified before it can be detected, according to the researchers.
This process adds more time and complexity in the testing process.
Contrary to that, the newly developed method skips all the conversion and amplification steps.
In simple words, it uses CRISPR to directly detect the viral RNA, as per the reports.
Newly Developed Test Delivering Quick Result
The senior investigator at Gladstone Institutes in the US, Jennifer Doudna said, “one reason we are excited about CRISPR-based diagnostics is the potential for quick, accurate results at the point of need,”.
According to her, “this is especially helpful in places with limited access to testing, or when frequent, rapid testing is needed. It could eliminate a lot of the bottlenecks we’ve seen with COVID-19,”.
In 2020, Jennifer Doudna won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for co-discovering CRISPR-Cas genome editing, the same technology underlies this work.
How Does It Work?
First of all, the Cas13 protein is combined with a reporter molecule that becomes fluorescent when cut in the newly developed test.
Afterworld, it is mixed with a patient sample from a nasal swab, according to the researchers.
Now, this sample is placed in a device that attaches to a smartphone.
Further, if the sample has a trace of RNA from SARS-CoV-2 then Cas13 will be activated.
It will cut the reporter molecule, causing the emission of a fluorescent signal.
The smartphone camera, which is essentially converted into a microscope, can detect fluorescence.
Accordingly it can report that a swab tested positive for the virus, as per the researchers.
The beauty of this newly developed test is that it could be adapted to a variety of mobile phones, further making the technology easily accessible.
After testing their device using patient samples, scientists have confirmed that it could provide very fast results with very less turnaround time for samples with clinically relevant viral loads.
For the required time for the test, the research found that the device accurately detected a set of positive samples in less than 5 minutes.
But in case of samples with a low viral load, the device required up to 30 minutes to distinguish it from a negative test according to the researchers.