Tech Transfer eNews Blog

UM School of Medicine researchers develop rapid visual test for COVID-19


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: June 3rd, 2020

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) have developed a unique test that can visually detect the new coronavirus in less than ten minutes.

The technology extracts RNA from a patient’s nasal swab or saliva sample, using a highly specific molecule attached to plasmonic gold nanoparticles to detect a particular protein unique to the coronavirus. If the protein is found, the nanoparticles turn the test’s liquid reagent from purple to blue.

“Many of the diagnostic tests currently on the market cannot detect the virus until several days after infection. For this reason, they have a significant rate of false negative results,” says Dipanjan Pan, professor at UMSOM and head of the research team. “Based on our preliminary results, we believe this promising new test may detect RNA material from the virus as early as the first day of infection.”

In addition, the technology doesn’t require any laboratory equipment or trained personnel to obtain and analyze the results, making it potentially much less expensive to produce and process compared to standard COVID-19 lab tests.

Pan has launched the start-up VitruVian Bio to develop the test for commercialization. He says he plans to inquire about receiving an emergency use authorization from the FDA within the next month.

“This is another example of how our faculty is driving innovation to fulfill a vital need to expand the capacity of COVID-19 testing,” says E. Albert Reece, dean of UMSOM. “Our nation will be relying on inexpensive, rapid tests that can be dispersed widely and used often until we have effective vaccines against this pandemic.”

Source: University of Maryland School of Medicine

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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