A team from The University of Texas at Austin (TX, USA) are developing a sensor capable of determining between COVID-19 and influenza and is able to test for both simultaneously.
Researchers from Cockrell School of Engineering located at The University of Texas at Austin (TX, USA) are developing a novel sensor capable of determining between influenza and COVID-19 and is able to test for them simultaneously. As the recent coronavirus pandemic shares a variety of symptoms with the flu, and experts anticipate a rise in cases during the upcoming autumn and winter seasons, a test to rapidly determine between the two illnesses is essential for public health. This will assist diagnosis, treatment decisions and infection control measures, potentially leading to savings in money and time for medical professionals.
A dual test for COVID-19 and influenza is reported to be able to improve on current testing methods in numerous ways. It will potentially be more convenient for patients who require multiple tests to be performed. It could also save time for medical professionals when resources are under pressure. The test could also reduce waste by reducing the number of nasal swabs required amid worldwide shortages of equipment.
Dmitry Kireev (University of Texas at Austin) explained: “Building a simple sensor for detecting COVID-19 alone wouldn’t be a great advantage for us because there are already several different ways to do so. The distinction of our work is developing a dual sensor that can quickly differentiate between both diseases.”
The team from the Cockrell School of Engineering recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation (VA, USA) for their work. They have developed a prototype device of their sensor and have begun the experimental process with inactive samples of COVID-19 and influenza for the initial tests.
The graphene-based biosensor is currently the size of a micro USB drive. The researchers have worked with colleagues from the College of Natural Sciences (The University of Texas at Austin) to integrate influenza and COVID-19 antibodies into the sensor. One part of the device will be sensitive and react to influenza antigens and another area will be sensitive and only react to COVID-19 antigens. The team have not yet determined how the test will be conducted but anticipate it will be performed using saliva samples.
This work builds upon previous work by the team in which they created a graphene-based biosensor to detect iron deficiency in children by combining the sensor with anti-ferritin antibodies. They discovered if they changed the antibody integrated into the sensor, they could covert the platform into a dual test for COVID-19 and influenza.
If their initial experiments prove successful, the team hope to partner with a company in order to scale up production of the sensor.