COVID-19 rapid test has a successful lab result


image: Engineers and virologists from the University of Nevada, Reno are teaming up to develop a nanotube-based electrochemical biosensor for COVID-19. Researcher Timsy Uppal cultivates and tests the virus while postdoctoral researcher Bhaskar Vadlamani tests the SARS-CoV-2 nanosensor.
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Credit: Photo courtesy of University of Nevada, Reno.

RENO, Nevada – Rapid detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, approximately 30 seconds after testing, gave preliminary positive results in Mano Misra’s lab at the University of Nevada, Reno. The test uses a nanotube-based electrochemical biosensor, a similar technology that Misra has used in the past to detect tuberculosis and colorectal cancer as well as to detect biomarkers for food safety.

Professor Misra, from the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University’s College of Engineering, has been working on nanosensors for 10 years. He has expertise in the detection of a specific biomarker in the breath of tuberculosis patients using a functionalized metallized nanosensor.

“I thought similar technology could be used to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is a folded protein,” Misra said. “These are point-of-care tests to assess exposure to COVID-19. We do not need a laboratory or trained healthcare workers to administer the test. Electrochemical biosensors are beneficial to people. detection purposes because they are sensitive, precise and simple. “

The test does not require a blood sample, it is performed using a nasal swab or even exhaled breath, which contains biomarkers of COVID-19. Misra and her team have successfully demonstrated a simple, inexpensive, rapid, and non-invasive diagnostic platform that has the potential to effectively detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The team includes Associate Professor Subhash Verma, virologist and researcher Timsy Uppal at the University’s Faculty of Medicine, and post-doctoral researcher Misra Bhaskar Vadlamani.

“Our role in this project is to provide viral material to be used for detection by the sensor of nanomaterials developed by Mano,” said Verma. “Mano contacted me in April or May and asked if we could collaborate to develop a test to detect SARS-CoV-2 infection by analyzing patients’ breath. That’s where we are. intervened, to provide biological material and began to provide the virus surface protein, which can be used to detect the presence of the virus. “

Verma, a SARS-CoV-2 expert, synthesized and prepared the antigenic protein of the COVID-19 virus in his laboratory, SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain protein, for the preliminary tests and the determination of the sensitivity of our nanosensor . The synthesis and purification of viral proteins is routine and routine work in a virology laboratory.

“Our lab is a virology lab, which works on different viruses, and we have been working on SARS-CoV-2 since the start of the epidemic,” he said. “Our genomics and diagnostics group sequenced SARS-CoV-2 from nasal swabs of COVID-19 patients in the state of Nevada to determine mutational changes in the virus as SARS-CoV-2 circulates in our population. “

The team developed co-metal functionalized nanotubes as a detection material for the electrochemical detection of the protein. They confirmed the potential of the biosensor for clinical application by directly analyzing the RBD of the Spike glycoprotein on the sensor.

The team plans to take the next step of validating the sensor on actual swabs from COVID-19 patients stored in the viral transport medium and have requested funding to develop a specific and inexpensive point-of-care sensor for rapid detection of COVID-19 virus in the saliva or breath of infected individuals.

The developed approach also has the potential for the diagnosis of other respiratory viral diseases by identifying suitable metallic elements to functionalize the nanotubes.


The team article “Functionalized TiO2 nanotube-based Electrochemical Biosensor for Rapid Detection of SARS-CoV-2” has been accepted for publication in the biosensors section of the MDPI publication ‘Sensors’ and is available in a pre-printed version on MedRxiv.

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