Out with the old, in with the new COVID-19 virus detection method? A faster, more cost-effective, and more sensitive test may soon replace the status quo. Press play to discover:
Brian T. Cunningham is a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and for the past several months, he’s been working on a novel detection method for the COVID-19 virus that’s faster and more sensitive than the PCR test. How does it work? The method uses engineered nucleic acid molecules that can bind to the spike proteins on the surface of the COVID-19 virus, and capture the virus on a nanostructured surface called a photonic crystal. When light is shined on this surface, the scattering between the light and virus particles is amplified, which then allows for a special microscope to immediately count the number of virus particles present. The COVID-19 virus is detected by virtue of the unique shadow it casts when light is scattered off its surface.
Initially, this method had actually been published for the detection of the Zika virus, and when COVID-19 hit, Cunningham and his team began adapting the method to detect the COVID-19 virus. The same method is also being used for HIV viral load monitoring, which is a proposal that’s recently been funded by the NIH.
A paper submitted to Nature Communications detailing the method was just accepted, which means it will soon be published and available to the public.
Press play for all the details and visit http://nano.illinois.edu/ to learn more.
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