A one-second COVID-19 testS. Himmelstein | May 23, 2021
Rapid and sensitive testing methods for COVID-19 biomarkers seem to be continually evolving, but this one might be the fastest. A sensor system based on a semiconductor transistor developed by researchers from the University of Florida and Taiwan’s National Chiao Tung University returns results within one second, far faster than current COVID-19 detection methods.
The electrochemical device employs antibodies against the SARS‑CoV‑2 spike protein to detect the virus in a saliva sample. Spike protein binding to a gold electrode studded with antibodies will change the electrical charge that runs through it, allowing the device to detect the virus. The entire electrode is included in a single-use test strip that a user links to a circuit board via a connector, and a short electrical test signal gets sent between the gold electrode and another auxiliary electrode. This signal is then returned to the reusable circuit board for analysis.
Tests with two different commercially available antibodies demonstrated a limit of detection down to 1 femtogram/ml for a spike peptide and 100 plaque-forming units/ml for an inactivated virus, indicating the potential of the device for point-of-care COVID-19 detection with high sensitivity.
The research is published in the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology B.