A low-cost COVID-19 virus sensor project for the iPhone is being redesigned to test COVID-19, which allows people to test for the virus daily without the need for a nasal swab in the nasal cavity. Current COVID-19 tests often rely on medical professionals to put nasal swabs in a person’s nose, a process that is uncomfortable and too invasive. In a project at the University of Utah, there is hope that an alternative method will enable fast, inexpensive testing while making people more comfortable.
The project was originally created to detect the Zika virus, and the project, led by Professor Massood Tabib-Azar, aims to redesign the sensor to allow it to detect the COVID-19 virus in 60 seconds, Metro reported.
The project was promoted in early May with a $200,000 National Science Fund Rapid Response Research grant to further fund the progress of the project. Professor Massood Tabib-Azar said: “We started this project about 12 months ago and the main idea is to allow people to have their own personal sensors and detect the Zika virus where they travel. Our plan is to reprogram it to recognize COVID-19. “
A prototype device has now been made, it is an inch wide, one connected to the host device via Bluetooth, and absorbs power from the smartphone’s charging port. When the companion APP is turned on, the sensor needs some saliva from the monitor to be tested.
The DNA strands in the virus bind to the proteins on the sensor, which in turn produce resistance that triggers positive results in the APP. Once the test is complete, the sample can be destroyed using a current, and the left sample can be reused in another test. In addition to collecting particles from the air, the sensor can also detect viruses on the surface by using cotton swabs. Details of positive results can be sent to authorities such as the CDC for tracking.
The sensors, which cost about $55 and can be reused and don’t require any consumables, could make tests widespread and help control and contain the spread of the virus, the researchers said. The device is now expected to enter clinical trials in July and open to the public as soon as August.