Ascontinues to spread, researchers are looking for new and creative ways to help detect and manage cases. A team from the University of California at San Diego is developing something to do just that: a sticker that changes color.
The sticker is a test strip and blister pack that can be placed over N95, surgical, or cloth masks and detect SARS-CoV-2 in the user’s breath or saliva, according to a press release from university.
When the person wearing the mask breathes, the test strip aims to detect protein cleavage molecules produced by a COVID-19 infection. After the user removes the mask and test materials, they squeeze the contents of the blister pack onto the test strip. If the test strip takes on a specific color, it means that infection molecules are present.
The university says the test would be similar to a home pregnancy test, with the test strip having a control line that shows what a positive result will look like.
Jesse Jokerst, professor of nanoengineering at UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and principal principal investigator of the project, noted that the tapes will not replace standard test protocols.
“Think of this as a surveillance approach, similar to having a smoke detector in your house,” Jokerst said in the press release. “It would just stay in the background every day and if it goes off then you know there’s a problem and that’s when you look at it with more sophisticated testing.”
Jokerst and researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine aim to test the strips on COVID-19 positive saliva samples before testing them on patients and healthcare workers.
The goal of the project, said UCSD in its press release, is to help provide “simple, affordable and reliable surveillance of COVID-19 infections that can be done daily and easily implemented in poor settings. in resources ”.
Jokerst said masks are the perfect “wearable” sensor for our world today. ”
“We take what many people already wear and redirect them,” Jokerst said, “so that we can quickly and easily identify new infections and protect vulnerable communities.
The tests are expected to cost only a few cents per strip to produce, making them affordable for daily testing, especially in facilities at high risk for the spread of the coronavirus, such as prisons, homeless shelters and clinics dialysis.
And if pandemics were to arise in the future, Jokerst said, “it wouldn’t be too hard to imagine that we could still benefit from this work.”