Glow-in-the-dark sensor can quickly find virus, according to makers

Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and Utrecht University have developed a sensor that they believe can detect the coronavirus quickly and accurately. The sensor works with glow-in-the-dark technology to show the rash, and is also said to be effective against other viruses or bacteria.

If a certain so-called biomarker, such as a protein of the coronavirus or antibodies against that virus, is present in a test sample, special proteins will emit blue light. If the biomarkers targeted by the test are absent, a green light is emitted. TU/e calls it a “molecular traffic light”.

The phenomenon that the researchers are using is called bioluminescence. Fireflies use this, for example, to give light.

‘Even possible to register with smartphone’

By measuring the amount of green and blue light, a user can determine the concentration of proteins or antibodies. “It is even possible to register this ratio with a camera on a smartphone, provided the sample is placed in a black plastic container that blocks all ambient light,” says research leader Maarten Merkx. This can be useful, for example, to determine how contagious someone still is.

“There is an increasing demand for medical tests in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic that provide fast and accurate results, are inexpensive, and ideally can be done by anyone, anywhere,” Merkx explains.

According to TU/e, the new test combines the sensitivity and accuracy of current laboratory tests with the speed and low costs of rapid tests. The first research results have been published in Nature Communications. Before the test platform is suitable for the general public, some work still needs to be done.

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By: Editors

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