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May 27, 2021

KAUST researchers create 15-minute rapid Covid-19 test

KAUST researchers in Saudi Arabia develop a new rapid Covid-19 test that offers results in 15 minutes.

Researchers at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia have created a new rapid Covid-19 test that can deliver precise results within 15 minutes.

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The test combines electrochemical biosensors and engineered protein constructs to enable fast identification pieces of the virus with an accuracy normally only achievable using slower genetic techniques.

The test can be carried out in a point of care setting using unprocessed blood or saliva samples without requiring preparation of specimen or processing in a centralised diagnostic laboratory.

KAUST biochemist Raik Grünberg said: “The combination of state-of-the-art bioelectronic hardware, materials science engineering and synthetic biology protein design really makes it possible to simplify and accelerate coronavirus testing.”

The test begins with a virus-specific nanobody, a binding protein that can stick to fragments of various coronaviruses, including the Covid-19 virus.

This nanobody is attached using various biochemical linkers to a thin layer of gold, which on passing electric current, controls the electricity flow via the semiconducting film it is linked to.

If any nanobody-bound viral proteins are present, the flow is changed, generating a signal that can be amplified to levels measurable with a device called an organic electrochemical transistor.

Grünberg along with KAUST colleagues are working with commercial partners to modify their lab-scale prototype to develop a bench-top, portable device that can be used for controlling the Covid-19 pandemic.

At present, Covid-19 testing is conducted by identifying viral ribonucleic acid using genetic means, which is slow and includes enzymatic amplification of trace molecular signals, or by viral protein detection, which is quick but less accurate.

As against traditional genetic testing, the speed, adaptability and performance of the latest test indicate its potential to complement or replace existing tests for Covid-19 and any other future pandemics.

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COVID-19 has already affected our lives forever. The way we work, shop, eat, seek medical advice, and socialize will all be different in the future. Quite how different remains to be seen, but all industries must plan for multiple eventualities. Are you interested in actionable insights on the business challenges induced by the pandemic? GlobalData's cross-sector report analyzes the significance of this major disruptive theme across industry verticals. It provides side-by-side research of alternative datasets to present you with unique quantitative analysis of the effects of COVID-19 and how these differ across sectors. Additionally, it offers qualitative analysis of each sector and analyzes COVID-19’s impact on leading companies. Whatever your company’s imminent strategic plans, the long-lasting impact of COVID-19 must not be overlooked. Find out how to futureproof your business operations – download our report today.
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