COVID-19 Tests | Wish List

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New COVID-19 test uses a smartphone microscope to quickly analyze saliva samples

1/29/21


https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210 ... mples.aspx


Researchers at the University of Arizona are developing a COVID-19 testing method that uses a smartphone microscope to analyze saliva samples and deliver results in about 10 minutes.

The UArizona research team, led by biomedical engineering professor Jeong-Yeol Yoon, aims to combine the speed of existing nasal swab antigen tests with the high accuracy of nasal swab PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, tests. The researchers are adapting an inexpensive method that they originally created to detect norovirus - the microbe famous for spreading on cruise ships - using a smartphone microscope.

They plan to use the method in conjunction with a saline swish-gargle test developed by Michael Worobey, head of the UArizona Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and associate director of the University of Arizona BIO5 Institute.

The team's latest research using water samples - done in collaboration with Kelly A. Reynolds, chair of the Department of Community, Environment and Policy in the UArizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health - is published today in Nature Protocols.

" We've outlined it so that other scientists can basically repeat what we did and create a norovirus-detecting device. Our goal is that if you want to adapt it for something else, like we've adapted it for COVID-19, that you have all the ingredients you need to basically make your own device."

- Lane Breshears, Biomedical Engineering Doctoral Student

Yoon - a BIO5 Institute member who is also a professor of biosystems engineering, animal and comparative biomedical sciences, and chemistry and biochemistry - is working with a large group of undergraduate and graduate students to develop the smartphone-based COVID-19 detection method.

"I have a couple of friends who had COVID-19 that were super frustrated, because their PCR results were taking six or seven days or they were getting false negatives from rapid antigen tests. But when they got the final PCR tests, they found out they had been sick, like they'd suspected," said Katie Sosnowski, a biomedical engineering doctoral student who works in Yoon's lab. "It's really cool to be working on a detection platform that can get fast results that are also accurate."

Cheaper, simpler detection


Traditional methods for detection of norovirus or other pathogens are often expensive, involve a large suite of laboratory equipment or require scientific expertise. The smartphone-based norovirus test developed at UArizona consists of a smartphone, a simple microscope and a piece of microfluidic paper - a wax-coated paper that guides the liquid sample to flow through specific channels. It is smaller and cheaper than other tests, with the components costing about $45.

The basis of the technology, described in a 2019 paper published in the journal ACS Omega, is relatively simple. Users introduce antibodies with fluorescent beads to a potentially contaminated water sample. If enough particles of the pathogen are present in the sample, several antibodies attach to each pathogen particle. Under a microscope, the pathogen particles show up as little clumps of fluorescent beads, which the user can then count. The process - adding beads to the sample, soaking a piece of paper in the sample, then taking a smartphone photograph of it under a microscope and counting the beads - takes about 10 to 15 minutes. It's so simple that Yoon says a nonscientist could learn how to do it by watching a brief video.

The version of the technology described in the Nature Protocols paper makes further improvements, such as creating a 3D-printed housing for the microscope attachment and microfluidic paper chip. The paper also introduces a method called adaptive thresholding. Previously, researchers set a fixed value for what quantity of pathogen constituted a danger, which limited precision levels. The new version uses artificial intelligence to set the danger threshold and account for environmental differences, such as the type of smartphone and the quality of the paper.

On-campus impact

The researchers plan to partner with testing facilities at the University of Arizona to fine-tune their method as they adapt it for COVID-19 detection. Pending approval of the university's institutional review board, students who are already being tested on campus through other methods will have the option to provide written consent for their sample to be run through the smartphone-based testing device as well. Ultimately, the researchers envision distributing the device to campus hubs so that the average person - such as a resident assistant in a dorm - could test saliva samples from groups of people.

"Adapting a method designed to detect the norovirus - another highly contagious pathogen - is an outstanding example of our researchers pivoting in the face of the pandemic," said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. "This promising technology could allow us to provide fast, accurate, affordable tests to the campus community frequently and easily. We hope to make it a regular part of our 'Test, Trace, Treat' strategy, and that it will have a broader impact in mitigating the spread of the disease."

Yoon and his team are also working on another idea, based on a 2018 paper they published in Chemistry--A European Journal, which is even simpler but leaves slightly more room for error. It involves the same technology, but instead of a smartphone microscope and specially designed enclosure, users would only need to download a smartphone app and use a microfluidic chip stamped with a QR code.

"Unlike the fluorescent microscope technique, where you get the chip into just the right position, you just take a snapshot of the chip," said biomedical engineering master's student Pat Akarapipad. "No matter the angle or distance the photo is taken from, the smartphone app can use AI and the QR code to account for variances and run calculations accordingly."

The method requires no training, so, if perfected, it could potentially allow students to pick up microfluidic chips from a campus location and test their own samples. The team is also working with other members of the university's COVID-19 testing group, including Deepta Bhattacharya, an associate professor in the Department of Immunobiology.

Source:

University of Arizona College of Engineering

Journal reference:

Chung, S., et al. (2021) Norovirus detection in water samples at the level of single virus copies per microliter using a smartphone-based fluorescence microscope. Nature Protocols. doi.org/10.1038/s41596-020-00460-7.
trader32176
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Re: COVID-19 Tests | Wish List

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Startup develops yeast-based test to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in saliva

1/29/21


https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210 ... aliva.aspx


Incubated at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, and supported by São Paulo Research Foundation- FAPESP's Innovative Research in Small Business Program (PIPE), BIOinFOOD is a startup that is developing a rapid COVID-19 diagnostic test based on a patent application filed by students at UNICAMP's Genomics and Bioenergy Laboratory.

The test is based on a biosensor consisting of a genetically modified brewer's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), which changes color if human ACE2 receptor expressed by the yeast's membrane binds to the spike glycoprotein present on the external surface of the virus.

" The yeast is normally beige. When this interaction takes place, the presence of the virus is signaled by a fluorescent green that can easily be detected by the equipment typically found in clinical analysis labs."

- Gleidson Silva Teixeira, one of BIOinFOOD's partners

Teixeira studied under Professor Gonçalo Amarante Guimarães Pereira, who leads one of the laboratories at UNICAMP's Institute of Biology, where the idea came up. According to the researchers' expectations, the new test will be both fast and cheaper than RT-PCR because of the low cost of yeast, the main input.

Another important difference is that it will probably use saliva. Being non-invasive is an advantage for diagnostic tests. Many people experience intense discomfort when undergoing collection of their material by nasal swab.

The sensitivity of the test is expected to be high, meaning it will be able to detect the virus only a few days after infection. "We plan eventually to have the yeast emit red light, which will be easier to identify," Teixeira says. "In this case, anyone will be perfectly capable of using the test, even at home."

Once the working hypothesis formulated in UNICAMP's laboratories has been fully validated, the startup's scientists expect the test to be brought to market and freely available for purchase during first-half 2021.

"The project is also supported by FINEP [the Brazilian government's innovation agency] and must be developed rapidly because we can't miss an opportunity to help combat the pandemic," Teixeira says.

The idea of developing a product designed to combat COVID-19 arose from a call issued by FAPESP when the pandemic arrived in Brazil (in March 2020), inviting researchers in the state of São Paulo to submit proposals for creative solutions in this direction. "The secret, in this case, is genetic modification of the yeast," Teixeira says. "We're confident the hypothesis will work and the biosensor we're constructing will emit a totally reliable signal."

The raw materials for the product are simple and distribution of the diagnostic test should be logistically straightforward.

Bread and beer

The innovation involved in the COVID-19 diagnostic test came out of a technology mastered previously by BIOinFOOD, according to one of its owners. The startup offers a biotech platform based on S. cerevisiae, a versatile microorganism widely used in industry as a biofactory. Organic acids, amino acids, enzymes, and therapeutic proteins are some of the outputs of the platform.

"In the specific case of the technology used to develop the COVID-19 test, we want to see the platform being adapted to other types of disease in future," Teixeira says.

The firm also develops custom yeasts for use by bakeries and breweries to suit consumer tastes. "We have several yeast-based solutions. Yeasts are well-known microorganisms. They can also be used in animal feed," Teixeira says.

Source:

São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP)
trader32176
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Re: COVID-19 Tests | Wish List

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Wearable devices can identify COVID-19 cases earlier than traditional diagnostic methods

2/8/21


https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210 ... thods.aspx


Wearable devices can identify COVID-19 cases earlier than traditional diagnostic methods and can help track and improve management of the disease, Mount Sinai researchers report in one of the first studies on the topic. The findings were published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research on January 29.

The Warrior Watch Study found that subtle changes in a participant's heart rate variability (HRV) measured by an Apple Watch were able to signal the onset of COVID-19 up to seven days before the individual was diagnosed with the infection via nasal swab, and also to identify those who have symptoms.

" This study highlights the future of digital health. It shows that we can use these technologies to better address evolving health needs, which will hopefully help us improve the management of disease. Our goal is to operationalize these platforms to improve the health of our patients and this study is a significant step in that direction. Developing a way to identify people who might be sick even before they know they are infected would be a breakthrough in the management of COVID-19."

- Robert P. Hirten, MD, Study Corresponding Author and Assistant Professor of Medicine (Gastroenterology), Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai

Hirten is also a member of the Hasso Plattner Institute for Digital Health at Mount Sinai and the Mount Sinai Clinical Intelligence Center (MSCIC).

The researchers enrolled several hundred health care workers throughout the Mount Sinai Health System in an ongoing digital study between April and September 2020. The participants wore Apple Watches and answered daily questions through a customized app. Changes in their HRV--a measure of nervous system function detected by the wearable device--were used to identify and predict whether the workers were infected with COVID-19 or had symptoms.

Other daily symptoms that were collected included fever or chills, tiredness or weakness, body aches, dry cough, sneezing, runny nose, diarrhea, sore throat, headache, shortness of breath, loss of smell or taste, and itchy eyes.

Additionally, the researchers found that 7 to 14 days after diagnosis with COVID-19, the HRV pattern began to normalize and was no longer statistically different from the patterns of those who were not infected.

"This technology allows us not only to track and predict health outcomes, but also to intervene in a timely and remote manner, which is essential during a pandemic that requires people to stay apart," says the study's co-author Zahi Fayad, PhD, Director of the BioMedical Engineering and Imaging Institute, Co-Founder of the MSCIC, and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Medical Imaging and Bioengineering at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The Warrior Watch Study draws on the collaborative effort of the Hasso Plattner Institute for Digital Health and the MSCIC, which represents a diverse group of data scientists, engineers, clinical physicians, and researchers across the Mount Sinai Health System who joined together in the spring of 2020 to combat COVID-19. The study will next take a closer look at biometrics including HRV, sleep disruption, and physical activity to better understand which health care workers are at risk of the psychological effects of the pandemic.

Source:

The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine
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