The COVID-19 swab test is a painstakingly slow process when it comes to acquiring results. To overcome this shortcoming, Israeli nanotechnologists have found a way to examine molecules one by one for coronavirus, and eliminate the most time-consuming process in COVID-19 test analysis.
In regular virus testing, lab teams need to massively increase the number of molecules they have from each patient’s sample, through a process known as amplification. Using a process known as the single-molecule method, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology has claimed that it can check molecules one by one, meaning labs won’t need to spend hours ‘amplifying’ samples to generate more material for analysis. The regular method typically takes between one and two hours and requires special chemicals. Millions of molecules are needed before a sample can be analyzed, whereas now, with this new technique, just 100 molecules will be required.
As reported by The Times of Israel, Amit Meller, of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology said, “We have developed a way to pass molecules, one by one, through a tiny nanohole. The hole is called a nanopore and isn’t new, but this is the first time it has been deployed for RNA testing for the coronavirus.”
Along with being used for COVID-19 testing, Meller also claimed that the technique can be used to screen for secondary cancers. Hoping to see quick commercialization, for both uses, Meller said the key is that it retains a level of precision in the analysis of ribonucleic acid, RNA, “which is essential in both contexts we studied – RNA biomarkers of metastatic cancer and the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
Using the nano method, the quantity of chemicals needed is reduced by 100-fold compared to regular lab analysis, according to Meller. “Our advances will potentially cause a significant reduction in the cost of testing,” he said.
To understand the phenomenon better, Meller spoke to the TOI, saying, “If you think of when you try to amplify a very quiet sound using an audio amplifier, you end up getting extra interference and noise, which is exactly what happens when amplifying for coronavirus tests. This is why results aren’t always accurate. Because we are eliminating amplification, we expect our method to boost accuracy.”
Source: The Times of Israel