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César de la Fuente develops an electrochemical COVID detector for mobile phones

17/Jan/2021 Research Coordinación

Researcher César de la Fuente, professor at the University of Pennsylvania and member of our External Committee, has just started clinical trials of DETECT 1.0. A device that detects the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in saliva through a chip connected to a mobile phone.

The chip consists of an electrode containing the ACE2 protein, the receptor for the S protein of the virus spicules. When saliva is deposited on the electrode, in samples from infected patients, both proteins bind, and this chemical reaction is transformed into an electrical signal that the device detects and transforms into text on the screen: positive. The absence of reaction would indicate that the patient is not infected.

To develop this device, César de la Fuente's team has built a printer that prints cardboard chips, which lowers the cost. Acquiring the protein for the electrode would be the most expensive part of the process, but thanks to biocomputing, the researcher claims to be able to synthesise it artificially and cheaply.

At the moment, the effectiveness in laboratory tests is over 90%. César de la Fuente predicts that applied to real cases it could be lower, but it is such a cheap test that the test could consist of several measures, and the sum of all of them would raise the effectiveness to 100%.

The full article in PennToday, 11/01/2021

Other related articles: La sexta and cope.

Image by César Rodríguez.