Detecting COVID-19 in 30 Seconds: Nanotubes

In research conducted at the University of Nevada, cobalt-functionalized titanium dioxide nanotubes have determined the capability to detect severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in less than 30 seconds. One of the major reasons for the rapid spread of the virus is the asymptomatic clinical presentation leading to involuntary transmission. Testing and quarantining of the infected individuals could be effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The methods currently used are time consuming and expensive.

Electro biochemical sensors are the preferred choice to detect biomolecules with high accuracy, specificity, and sensitivity. The researchers developed cobalt-metal functionalized titanium dioxide nanotubes as a sensing material for detecting receptor binding domain of spike glycoprotein. The nanotubes were synthesized by electrochemical anodization of titanium sheet and functionalized with cobalt by wet ion-exchange method.

The ability to detect spike-RBD by the nanotubes was determined by carrying out an amperometry experiment at -0.8V. The nanotubes were able to detect spike-RBD protein in very low concentrations ranging from 14nM to 1400nM and within 30 seconds. The sensor could be adopted for smartphone applications and point of care diagnostics for COVID-19. Longer nanotubes could be used to provide a higher surface area and a better reaction rate. 

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