Portable biosensor detects coronavirus in humans and animals


European scientists work tirelessly to find ways to deal with the pandemic. At this stage, it is very important to have an early diagnosis. At the Institute of Nanotechnology in Barcelona, ​​Professor Laura Lesuga and her team are developing a nano biosensor for the rapid detection of Covid-19: “It is a device in which we put a saliva sample, we will wait a few minutes and we will find out if we have caught the virus or not and the amount of virus load that the examinee brings.”

The tests can be done without the presence of specialized personnel. But how does this device work? A biological sample is placed on the light-sensitive chips that trap the virus. The fluid trap created by the University of Marseille works as bait for coronavirus S protein. Researchers put inactive SARS CoV-2 components in the biosensor. Light rays embedded in the chip capture the presence and amount of viruses in the sample.

This European project is called CoNVat and has a budget of 2.54 million euros. Funded by the European Funds for Research and Innovation and the European Cohesion Policy. The two-year project partners specialized centers in Spain, France and Italy.

It will not only be used to detect this particular coronavirus, but will help prevent new pandemics. Researcher and biologist Jordi Serra-Combo is involved in the project. Studies in Pyrenees animals that have viruses. Bats can have up to 3,000 coronaviruses: “It is important to know the types of coronaviruses that are present in these bat populations so that we can find out who can pass from one species to another, not directly to us, but through intermediate species.”

Today, the genetic material of bats is examined by PCR techniques in the laboratory. Next year, these bio-sensors will allow us to take samples on site from specific animals, faster, more efficiently and cheaper. The French partners of the project offer the biological material for the device, while the Italians do the clinical trials: “What we are doing now is integrating this technology into portable containers. The device will be connected to another mobile device or tablet and we will have the results within 10 minutes “ says Maria Soler, a researcher on the project.

Clinical trials are expected to begin before the end of 2020.


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