Early Detection of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19 Virus) With New Photonic Sensor System

Robert Halir BIONAND

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Scientists of the University of Malaga are operating in a brand-new system based upon photonic sensing units might allow early detection of SARS-CoV-2. Credit: University of Malaga

Scientists are dealing with the advancement of a brand-new devices, more practical and more affordable, that might be released in main health care centers.

Detecting SARS-CoV-2 infection and associated antibodies is vital to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. A multidisciplinary group of researchers from the University of Malaga, led by Robert Halir, scientist of the Department of Communications Engineering of the Higher Technical School of Telecommunications Engineering, familiar with the constraints of present strategies, are establishing a point-of-care detection system based upon photonic sensing units.

“PCR techniques currently applied to detect the virus are reliable, but also slow and expensive, while serological assays, though simpler, lack precision and cannot provide quantitative results,” states Robert Halir, who describes that their system will specifically include performance and, in the future, might provide real-time outcomes at a lower expense. To this end, it has actually been moneyed with €95,000 under the COVID-19 Fund of the Government of Andalusia to work, for one year, towards showing the practicality of their system.

COVID Photonic Sensors

The left image programs optical microscopic lense of the chip, which is 1 cm broad roughly, and consists of about 10 sensing units. The best image reveals electronic microscopic lense of the facilities utilized to inject light into the chip, which is 10 micron broad. Credit: University of Malaga

The job was proposed by the Andalusian Centre for Nanomedicine and Biotechnology (BIONAND), and it is based upon the cooperation of 2 R&D&I groups of the UMA: the “Biomimetic Dendrimers and Photonics Laboratory” and the “Photonics and Radiofrequency Laboratory,” led by teachers Ezequiel Pérez-Inestrosa and Íñigo Molina-Fernández, respectively, both members of the Biomedical Research Institute of Malaga (IBIMA).

The research study group currently has a genuine model of a picking up system based upon photonic chips, and a determining gadget, which can discovering proteins in really low concentrations — swelling and antibody biomarkers present in clients that dislike prescription antibiotics. The model has actually been established over the previous 4 years and provides quantitative lead to a matter of minutes. In reality, such is the level of sensitivity of the system that can discovering modifications in the refraction index of a one-hundred-millionth.

This multidisciplinary job intends to adjust the system for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 and its antibodies, in addition to enhance and minimize the cost of the determining gadget. To this end, they are going to deal with 2 lines: keep enhancing the optical level of sensitivity of the sensing unit and establish chemical procedures so that just a particular protein that reveals SARS-CoV-2, or the antibodies to such protein, as proper, follow the surface area of the waveguides. “If results are satisfactory, in the future we will be able to develop a completely functional point-of-care equipment to be deployed in primary healthcare centers,” states Halir. According to the scientist, expense decrease would be considerable compared to PCR screening, due to the fact that these tests might be carried out straight by family physician, therefore conserving the expenses of being processed in specialized labs and, likewise, the time frame for outcomes, which would be acquired in a portion of an hour.

On the other hand, concerning serological assays, the benefit would be the possibility of discovering lower concentrations of antibodies and, likewise, figuring out the specific variety of antibodies an evaluated individual has. “If we succeed, we believe that a commercial prototype could be developed in the near future,” states the scientist of the UMA.

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