The new salivary test for COVID was developed by scientists at Harvard University and MIT, ed is able to determine which variant of COVID-19 you have, using 3D printed components and costing just $ 2 (about € 1.71) per device.
The details of the diagnostic device, along with models for 3D printing, They were published online. The team behind the test says they want to create something simple, which could, for example, “Be built by a doctor in Zimbabwe and 3D printed inside their facilities”. It runs on batteries and gives results in an hour.
The test can successfully identify Alpha, Beta, and Gamma variants in a patient’s saliva, and the researchers claim that they are developing the device to detect the Delta variant.
If new variants emerge, the team could perform a strain-specific saliva test in just two weeks. The likelihood of this happening, experts previously said, it depends on the number of people who get infected. As more countries relax restrictions, more people are likely to be infected. This means there will be more chances of the virus changing in a way that affects COVID-19 disease, creating a disturbing new variant.
All four research co-authors released the project to explain everything there is to know about the new COVID-19 variant test.
and how does the salivary test of the COVID-19 variant work?
The test uses the scissors from scientists’ molecular toolbox: technology CRISPR. “CRISPR is a part of the bacterial immune system that evolved to detect and cut DNA,” explained Dr Xiao Tan, one of the first four authors of the research. “For bacteria, it’s a way to defend themselves. What we have done is co-opt it to detect the things that interest us “.
Unlike some CRISPR technologies, the scissors used in the skewer test aren’t just one-cut wonders. Called SHERLOCK, which stands for “high sensitivity reporter specific enzyme release” can actually detect the presence of COVID-19.
The researchers worked with Dr Jim Collins, one of the co-founders of SHERLOCK technology, to design their device. When SHERLOCK finds a particular spike protein specific to the variant in question, it activates an enzyme, which continues to create the fluorescent light that indicates the test is positive, said Devora Najjar, co-first author. “So only if CRISPR finds the [virus COVID-19] it will begin to release fluorescence. Otherwise, you will not get any fluorescence. “
Getting the saliva test done is simple and no training is required, the researchers said. First, spit into the sample preparation chamber. Turn on the heat and wait three to six minutes for the saliva to diffuse through the filter.
Then, take the filter and move it to the reaction chamber column. Push down to add saliva to three small pipettes, each containing SHERLOCK technology specific for the different variants.
An hour later, you will see fluorescent light, bad news, or no light at all. Even a supplied smartphone app can read the result.
Salivary testing uses minimal tools, which is why the researchers called it miSHERLOCK. Compared to home PCR testing, the miSHERLOCK device is simpler and cheaper, say the researchers.
“I’m not sure how this works in the UK, but in the US, just shipping samples like the ones that have been FDA approved costs $ 120,” Tan said.