Researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), in collaboration with specialists from the University of Valencia (UV), have developed a high-sensitivity mass biosensor that continuously monitors signals for the direct detection of SARS-CoV-2 in environmental aerosols. The device, which is currently being tested as a prototype makes it possible to assess the quality of the air and allows early detection of the virus. The preliminary studies have been conducted using virus-like particles.
Virus-like particles are viral membranous particles that mimic the virus but which do not contain its genome, meaning they are not infective. In the specific case of SARS-CoV-2, the VLPs obtained at the UV include the four structural proteins of the virus, the spicula protein (S), the wrapped protein (E), the majoritarian protein of its membrane (M), and the protein of the nucleocapsid (N). The biosensor detects the virus-like particles in the air in an environment that stimulates having a high viral charge, providing a signal linked to the viral charge present in the atmosphere.
The researchers said that this type of technology can be used to detect the presence of the virus in crowded places and warn about the spreading of COVID-19 without having to do PCR tests.
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