Researchers at Havard and MIT University have prepared a tabletop device to detect the COVID virus from saliva samples. Termed as the Minimally Instrumented SHERLOCK (miSHERLOCK), this device is as accurate as the PCR test.
The device is set to revolutionize the testing for the virus if approved for production at a massive scale. The device can also detect viral mutations; linked to some of the SARS-CoV-2 variants wreaking havoc as of now.
“We demonstrated that our platform can be programmed to detect new variants that emerge, and that we could repurpose it quite quickly,” said in a statement James Collins, the Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering and Science in MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) and Department of Biological Engineering.
“In this study, we targeted the U.K., South African, and Brazilian variants, but you could readily adapt the diagnostic platform to address the Delta variant and other ones that are emerging.”
The device is based on CRISPR technology, it is 3D printed, and its cost is at a lowly $15. With the reuse of hardware, its costs can go down to as much as $6. You can learn more here.
“miSHERLOCK eliminates the need to transport patient samples to a centralized testing location and greatly simplifies the sample preparation steps, giving patients and doctors a faster, more accurate picture of individual and community health, which is critical during an evolving pandemic,” said co-first author Helena de Puig, a postdoctoral fellow at the Wyss Institute and MIT.
The researchers said they came up with the idea of their new device to make testing easier, simpler, and more effective.
“Simple things that used to be ubiquitous in the hospital, like nasopharyngeal swabs, were suddenly hard to get, so routine sample processing procedures were disrupted, which is a big problem in a pandemic setting,” said co-first author Rose Lee who is also a visiting fellow at the Wyss Institute. “Our team’s motivation for this project was to eliminate these bottlenecks and provide accurate diagnostics for COVID-19 with less reliance on global supply chains, and also accurately detect the variants that were starting to emerge.”