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Platform developed to detect COVID-19 antibodies within seconds

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Carnegie Mellon University have developed the testing platform

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have reported findings on an advanced nanomaterial-based biosensing platform that detects COVID-19 antibodies within seconds.

The results were published inthe journal Advanced Materials. Carnegie Mellon’s collaborators included the University of Pittsburgh and the UPMC.

The testing platform identifies the presence of two of the virus’ antibodies, spike S1 protein and receptor binding domain (RBD) in approximately five microliters of blood.

This detection, which takes up 10 to 12 seconds, happens through an electrochemical reaction within a handheld microfluidic device which sends results almost immediately to an interface on a smart phone.

Rahul Panat, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon, said: “We utilised the latest advances in materials and manufacturing such as nanoparticle 3D printing to create a device that rapidly detects COVID-19 antibodies.

“Because our technique can quantify the immune response to vaccination, it is very relevant in the current environment.”

An additive manufacturing technology called aerosol jet 3D printing is responsible for the accuracy of the testing platform.

Tiny gold micropillar electrodes are printed at nanoscale using aerosol droplets that are thermally sintered together. This causes a rough, irregular surface that provides increased surface area of the micropillars and an enhanced electrochemical reaction, where antibodies can latch on to antigens coated on the electrode.

The specific geometry allows the micropillars to load more proteins for detection.

Panat collaborated with Shou-Jiang Gao, leader of the cancer virology program at UPMC’s Hillman Cancer Centre and professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at the University of Pittsburgh. Azahar Ali, a researcher in Panat’s Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Lab, was the lead author of the study.

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