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U of Arizona start-up uses lasers to diagnose COVID-19 patients in under 10 minutes

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: July 8th, 2020

A University of Arizona (UA) start-up is developing a machine that uses laser technology to detect the novel coronavirus in patients in a way that is faster, cheaper and more accurate than current tests.

Botanisol Analytics is working with an enhanced Román spectrometer, a microwave-sized machine that uses lasers to analyze a sample based on how its molecules vibrate under the light.

According to Botanisol CEO Dave Talenfeld, the automated technology could deliver positive COVID-19 results in under two minutes and negative results in less than 10, with an accuracy of about 95%. In addition, the machine is easy to operate and will work anywhere with a standard power outlet.

“We can put rapid testing machines that can test an unlimited number of people anywhere they are needed,” Talenfeld says. “”That will enable people to rapidly screen large populations and then send only those high risk individuals for more thorough diagnosis, so it just saves a lot of medical personnel time.”

Botanisol hopes to deploy its machines by 2021 and to make as many as 100,000 of them that year. The start-up currently has two functional prototypes that are being developed for the military, supported by about $2.5 million in funding from the Air Force, which aims to use the technology for virus surveillance and to detect new disease threats.

Talenfeld says he can envision the machines eventually being used as a commercial diagnostic tool at airports, government buildings and schools to help countries be more prepared the next time a global disease threat emerges.

“While we have an opportunity to help restore economic activity and restore normalcy this time, we hope to be in a position to help prevent the next outbreak entirely,” he comments.

Source: AZ Central

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