New Protein based Biosensors created for Quick COVID-19 test

Recently, a team of researchers led by David Baker, who is the professor of biochemistry and director of the Institute for Protein Design at UW Medicine, have created a new protein-based biosensor that will detect the Coronavirus.

Key Facts

  • The protein-based biosensors will detect the proteins that make up the pandemic coronavirus.
  • It would also help in detecting the antibodies against it.
  • The biosensor will glow when mixed with components of the virus or specific COVID-19
  • Thus, it will enable the faster and more widespread testing.

How this technique is different than the RT-PCR?

  • The RT-PCR technique to detect the virus is used by most of the medical laboratories today. This technique amplifies the genetic material from the virus in order to make them visible.
  • But the RT-PCR technique requires specialized staff and equipment.
  • Further, the technique consumes the lab supplies that are now in high demand across the world.
  • These supply-chain shortfalls have also slowed the COVID-19 test results.
  • This, in order to directly detect the coronavirus in patient samples without any genetic amplification used the computers to design new biosensors.
  • These protein-based biosensors will recognize the specific molecules on the surface of the virus. The protein will bind to them and then emit the light through a biochemical reaction.

How this test is different then the antibody testing?

Antibody testing reveals whether a person had COVID-19 in the past. This test is used to track the spread of the pandemic. But this technique also requires complex laboratory supplies and equipment. But, the newly developed sensors glow when mixed with COVID-19 antibodies. These sensors do not react to other antibodies present in the blood.

Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)

It is a laboratory technique comprising of the reverse transcription of RNA into DNA and the amplification of specific DNA targets through a polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This technique is used to measure the amount of a specific RNA.


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