Smartphone COVID detector may revolutionise mass testing

By Joanna England
A pioneering COVID-19 detection test that operates via mobile phones may change the face of mass testing procedures...

A Canadian research company has announced the development of a new diagnostics platform that interacts with mobile devices to detect COVID-19. The system operates through a revolutionary new app that will soon be available for download from app stores. 

If successful, the solution could revolutionise the way mass testing is carried out and how data is managed. Currently, testing programmes have presented numerous challenges globally, due to lack of diagnostic laboratory infrastructure, unreliable test kits, poor management of track and trace programmes and the de-centralisation of test data. 

Test phase

The solution was invented by the Montreal-based Two-Photon Research Inc and changes the way viruses can be detected. Called CAST, the new platform is currently completing vitro testing and will shortly move on to the vivo test phase. 

A swab kit collects a saliva sample from the user. The app then communicates with the platform and uses standard mobile phone technology to ascertain if the virus is present in the saliva sample.

According to an official statement from the Two Photon Research Inc team, CAST uses TPR's patented Aptamer Molecular Photonic Beacon (AMPB) to photonically interact with smartphones. 

"The Aptamers detect SARS-CoV-2 in saliva samples with immediate results. During the test, the AMPB binds to the S1 protein of SARS-CoV-2 in the samples if COVID-19 is present. On binding with the S1 protein, the AMPB responds to the smartphone's LED flash. The light emitted by the AMPB is then detected by the smartphone's CMOS sensors. No photons, no virus," the statement said.

The mobile phone displays the results of the test instantly, storing it along with the time of the test and GPS location. The process can be administered repeatedly and on a mass scale.

Two Photon Research Inc's CEO, Najeeb Khalid, said of the breakthrough, "Instant, accurate and low-cost testing that does not rely on laboratory testing is essential in containing the pandemic. Together with vaccines we can control the COVID-19 outbreak and return our lives and economies to normal."

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