Point of care, rapid testing for COVID-19 using a handheld portable device
To halt the spread of COVID-19, it is essential that frontline healthcare workers have access to testing tools that can deliver fast, highly accurate results.
Diagnosis time is critical in slowing the spread – every hour that an infected person is unaware that they have the coronavirus represents time when they may be unintentionally contributing to its spread.
A current method for detecting COVID-19 includes using laboratory-based qPCR tests that detect the viral RNA (ribonucleic acid). While these are considered highly accurate, some tests take more than 48 hours to process. Another method is via serology antibody tests that detect infection by quantifying the presence of antibodies produced by the immune system. While these tests are generally quicker, they can produce false negatives.
Of the existing testing models, none adequately meet the threefold requirement of being easy-to-use, rapid and highly accurate.
This project seeks to finalise the development of a new approach to detecting viral RNA directly from swabs using plasmonic nanoparticles that allow single molecule detection. This technology is compatible with a handheld portable device, such as a smartphone, and will enable the delivery of rapid, accurate results.