Plasmonic-fluor will allow more accurate detection of Covid-19

Hyperaxion Apr 20, 2020

University of Washington engineers created faster, more accurate, sensitive and implementable detection technology than the one currently used.

Researchers at the University of Washington in St. Louis are being funded by the US federal government to produce a new type of rapid test for Covid-19. Built from an ultra-bright fluorescent nanoprobe, the product, called plasmonic-fluor, has the potential to be widely implemented.

Plasmonic-fluor will allow more accurate detection of Covid-19
(Credit: University of Washington in St. Louis).

According to Srikanth Singamaneni, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science who leads the project, this new test “will be 100 times more sensitive compared with the conventional SARS-CoV-2 antibody detection method.” This can facilitate the diagnosis of positive cases for Covid-19, in addition to reducing the number of false negatives.

Another advantage of the new test is that it can be used in places that have few resources, since reading its results requires fewer complex instruments.

The article on the new technology was published on Monday (20), in the renowned journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.

How it works

The plasmonic-fluor is composed of gold nanoparticles coated with conventional dyes that are capable of detecting extremely small amounts of target biomolecules (in this case, Sars-CoV-2) in fluids. The gold nanoparticles serve as guides. Because they are fluorescent, they are used so that doctors and scientists can accurately see and follow target biomolecules.

Without the gold nanoparticles, this method was not efficient. “The problem in fluorescence is, in a lot of cases, it’s not sufficiently intense,” explains Singamaneni in a statement. If the fluorescent signal is not strong enough to highlight what the experts are looking for, important information from the sample may be lost.

With the use of gold nanoparticles, which absorb and disperse light more efficiently, the fluorescence emission is increased.

The technology is currently being tested for application in the Covid-19 pandemic, but scientists suggest that in the future, it could be used to detect other diseases and conditions, such as heart attacks, at an early stage. In addition, the researchers demonstrated that plasmonic-fluor can detect several proteins simultaneously, helping to diagnose comorbidities.

Related topics:

Covid-19

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