Covid-19: Scientists develop portable, point-of-care test

Covid-19 care test

At a time when covid-19 testing has become a major hitch in combating the pandemic, which is unleashing mayhem across the globe, scientists have come up with an innovative point-of-care test where samples don’t need sending into lab.

A prototype of a rapid Covid-19 test has been developed using a simple-to-use portable instrument for reading the results with a smartphone in 30 minutes by scientists, including one of Indian origin.

According to the study, published in the journal PNAS, the new technology may help overcome bottlenecks in supplies and laboratory personnel which have led to long waiting times for Covid-19 test results in several parts of the world amidst the ongoing pandemic.

“If such a device and test were available, we could test for Covid-19 at public events, auditoriums, large gatherings and potentially even at home for self-testing. The results could be sent back to the appropriate public health system for coordination,” Rashid Bashir, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in the US, was quoted as saying by PTI.

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In the current research, the scientists used a simpler process to analyse the viral transport media, called LAMP, which bypasses the RNA extraction and purification steps.

“LAMP only needs one temperature – 65 C – so it is much easier to control,” said Anurup Ganguli, the first author of the study.

“Also, LAMP works more robustly than PCR, especially when there are contaminants in the test sample. We can just briefly heat the sample, break open the virus, and detect the genetic sequence that specifically identifies SARS-CoV-2,” Ganguli said.

When the researchers compared the LAMP assay with PCR, they found the results were in agreement, following which they documented the sensitivity and specificity of the LAMP test, the PTI report said.

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