IIT alumnus Dipanjan Pan’s rapid naked eye test uses innovative nanoparticle technique.
A team of US scientists led by an Indian American researcher has developed an experimental diagnostic test for covid-19 that can visually detect the presence of the virus in 10 minutes.
The test developed by scientists from the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) does not require the use of any advanced laboratory techniques, such as those commonly used to amplify DNA, for analysis.
It uses a simple assay containing plasmonic gold nanoparticles to detect a color change when the virus is present, according to an UMSOM release.
“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,” said study leader Dipanjan Pan, PhD, Professor of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine and Pediatrics at the UMSOM.
“Additional studies are needed, however, to confirm whether this is indeed the case,” added Dr. Pan who has a doctorate in chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).
The study co-authored by Matthew Frieman, PhD, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at UMSOM was published in the American Chemical Society’s nanotechnology journal ACS Nano
Once a nasal swab or saliva sample is obtained from a patient, the RNA is extracted from the sample via a simple process that takes about 10 minutes.
The test uses a highly specific molecule attached to the gold nanoparticles to detect a particular protein, UMSOM said. This protein is part of the genetic sequence that is unique to the novel coronavirus.
When the biosensor binds to the virus’s gene sequence, the gold nanoparticles respond by turning the liquid reagent from purple to blue.
“The accuracy of any covid-19 test is based on being able to reliably detect any virus. This means it does not give a false negative result if the virus actually is present, nor a false positive result if the virus is not present,” said Dr. Pan.
“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.”
Dr. Pan created a company called VitruVian Bio to develop the test for commercial application.
He plans to have a pre-submission meeting with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within the next month to discuss requirements for getting an emergency use authorization for the test.
In Dr. Pan’s laboratory, research scientist Parikshit Moitra, PhD, and UMSOM research fellow Maha Alafeef conducted the studies along with research fellow Ketan Dighe from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).
Dr. Pan holds a joint appointment with the College of Engineering at the UMBC and is also a faculty member of the Center for Blood Oxygen Transport and Hemostasis (CBOTH).