TEHRAN (Iran News) – A new DNA-testing kit that pairs up with a smart phone could be used to diagnose COVID-19 in less than two hours, scientists say.
‘POCKET’ (point of care kit for the entire test) identifies changes in DNA that signal disease in real-time from samples of blood, urine, or saliva.
It contains two components – a 3D-printed integrated chip, or i-chip, and a box that holds a smartphone, which is used as a heater, signal detector, and result readout, the Daily Mail reported.
The ultra-portable POCKET kit, which costs less than $10 to make, fits into a small plastic bag or a regular-sized envelope.
Weighing about 3 ounces and measuring less than 10 inches long, the tool could be vital in the war against future pandemics, the Chinese researchers claim.
POCKET can also be used to perform point-of-care (POC) DNA tests for agriculture, environmental protection, and food safety.
‘This inexpensive, ultra-portable POCKET platform may become a versatile sample-to-answer platform for clinical diagnostics, food safety, agricultural protection, and environmental monitoring,’ said corresponding author Dr. Ming Chen, of the Army Medical University in Chongqing, China.
‘We detected different types of DNA from clinics to the environment to food to agriculture.
‘The system could potentially be employed for the rapid detection and tracking of infectious diseases like COVID-19.
‘The detection is sensitive, specific, and speedy – less than two hours. It’s also stable, with a shelf-life of more than 10 weeks.’
Previous attempts to create similar POC systems have been hampered by the need to use large equipment such as centrifuges.
POCKET, meanwhile, is cheap and mobile, dispensing with the bulky laboratory equipment usually required for POC tests.
Viral or bacterial DNA is often only found in small amounts so it has to be purified and replicated many times in a process called amplification.
This requires heating the sample to precise temperatures alongside specific chemicals.
It’s also been difficult to detect DNA in a variety of types of samples such as blood, urine, plant matter, river water or food.
POCKET gets around these obstacles using small, lightweight, easily fabricated parts and special reagents with help from a smartphone.
The kit uses the heat of a phone’s processor to warm a sample to a target temperature as reagents, or chemicals, trigger reactions.
If DNA of interest is present these will create visual signals such as light or color that can be seen using the smartphone’s camera.
POCKET detects different types of DNA from blood, mucous, and urine to food such as milk, river water, and plant leaves.
Smartphones are among the most convenient, user-friendly, and powerful interfaces for point-of-care detection in resource-limited settings.
This means the ultra-portable POCKET kit, which fits into a plastic bag smaller than a sheet of A4 paper, could greatly benefit developing countries.
Thanks to a smartphone’s internet connectivity, POCKET can also locate and track the distribution of illness in real-time.
‘On the basis of smartphones’ built-in wireless communication and geolocation capabilities, our POCKET platform makes it possible to real-time locate the distribution of the disease,’ said Dr. Chen.
‘Furthermore, the POCKET platform can serve as the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) in DNA analysis to transmit on-site testing results to the centralized hospital or public health officials.
‘This would provide Spatio-temporal disease mapping for further investigation – in addition, end-users including patients can receive fast feedback on disease control and prevention.’
POCKET, which also has the potential to detect other nucleic acids such as RNA, has been described further in Science Advances.
- source : Tasnim, Irannews