Currently, most of the COVID-19 testing is done by collecting swab samples from suspected patients. However, this method takes hours to deliver results. The good news is that scientists have come up with a new testing method that can visually detect the presence of the novel coronavirus in just 10 minutes.
The new test does not require the use of any advanced laboratory techniques. It uses a simple assay containing plasmonic gold nanoparticles to detect a color change when the virus is present. The team from the University of Maryland School of Medicine is led by an Indian origin scientist Dipanjan Pan, professor of diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine and pediatrics.
For the test, the RNA extracted from the nasal or salival swab is subjected to a biosensor which binds to the virus gene sequence. This changed the color of the gold nanoparticles as the reaction turns the purple color of the liquid reagent to blue. Dr. Pan is planning to have a meeting with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within the next month for getting an emergency use authorization for the test. Their study appeared in the American Chemical Society’s nanotechnology journal ACS Nano.