Detecting COVID-19 with Microfluidic Mobile Phone Extensions

The battle against COVID-19 remains, and monitoring is one of our most convenient and practical tools for halting the virus’s transmission. In this case, Rice University researchers have created a tool that uses the microfluidic method to detect COVID-19 in a blood sample and show the results once inserted into a mobile phone.

The test uses antibody-studded magnetic nanobeads to recognize COVID-19’s nucleocapsid protein. It takes less than an hour to get results for the test. The device was able to detect very low concentrations of nucleocapsid protein during clinical trials, indicating that it could be used as a sensitive screening tool.

Although PCR remains the global standard for detecting the virus, it is time-intensive and requires fully skilled medical professionals and equipment. This calls for the need for methods that can give rapid tests especially in critical areas like airports to help prevent transmission.

Peter Lillehoj, one of the researchers said that one great thing about this device is it doesn’t need any laboratory. You can do all the sample collection and test procedures on-site. The device is also easy to use and distribute.

The test is fast and takes only 55 minutes to complete. Besides, it can recognize as little as 50 picograms of COVID-19’s nucleocapsid protein per milliliter and the result of the test can be seen on a standard mobile phone using an app.

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