To date, the most accurate method of identifying the SARS-COV-2 virus in the body is PCR test. A sample of fluid from the patient’s mucosa is subjected to a polymerase chain reaction to cause amplification of the genetic material of the virus. The technology is reliable, but it requires laboratory conditions for its implementation, so scientists from the University of Santa Barbara (USA) have developed an alternative, for which a regular smartphone is enough.
Simply put, during amplification, many copies of the genetic material of the virus are created, its biomass increases multiplying, and it becomes easier to identify. In order to stimulate coronavirus to replicate in huge quantities, with PCR procedure, it is several times to change the temperature from 50 to 95 ℃. But after that, special equipment is required to detect the virus.
An alternative method called “loop isothermal amplification” was developed several decades ago, and it allows you to do without a complex temperature cycle. The reverse side is increased sensitivity, in particular, the influenza virus can be identified on the first attempt, but to detect SARS-COV-2, scientists required more than 500 attempts. Fortunately, today this problem has been successfully solved.
The result of the work of American scientists was a simple installation with a heating panel, an LED system and a smartphone, the camera of which tracks changes in the examined sample. One test takes 25 minutes and costs $ 7-this is several times cheaper than the PCR test. But what is even better is the universality of the technology – with the help of replaceable reagents, it allows you to identify many other viruses.
Source — UC Santa Barbara