Covid-19: Scientists develop novel method to detect single v
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Scientists have developed a new method for identifying single virus particles based on changes in electrical current when they pass through ultrasmall pores, an advance which they claim may lead to new rapid Covid-19 tests.

In a study published in ACS Sensors scientists have introduced a new system using silicon nanopores sensitive enough to detect even a single virus particle when coupled with a machine learning algorithm.

In the new method, the scientists said a layer of the compound silicon nitride just 50 nanometres (nm) thick has tiny nanopores added. The layer is suspended on a silicon wafer and when a voltage difference is applied to the solution on either side of the wafer, ions travel through the nanopores in a process called electrophoresis.

The motion of the ions can be monitored by the current they generate, and when a viral particle enters a nanopore, it blocks some of the ions from passing through, leading to a transient dip in current. Each dip reflects the physical properties of the particle, such as volume, surface charge, and shape, so they can be used to identify the kind of virus.

The team built a classification algorithm trained with signals from known viruses to determine the identity of new samples. “By combining single-particle nanopore sensing with artificial intelligence, we were able to achieve highly accurate identification of multiple viral species,” explains senior author.

The computer can discriminate the differences in electrical current waveforms that cannot be identified by human eyes, which enables highly accurate virus classification. In addition to coronavirus, the system was tested with similar pathogens - respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, influenza A, and influenza B.

The team believes that coronaviruses are especially well suited for this technique since their spiky outer proteins may even allow different strains to be classified separately.

Compared with other rapid viral tests like polymerase chain reaction or antibody-based screens, the new method is much faster and does not require costly reagents, which may lead to improved diagnostic tests for emerging viral particles that cause infectious diseases such as COVID-19.

Source: https://resou.osaka-u.ac.jp/en/research/2020/20201110_2
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Nov 29, 2020Like