How new Israeli laser technology may reduce COVID-19 diagnostics testing time
One of the greatest challenges doctors have faced since the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is the ability to test a high number of potentially infected people in a short period of time. However, this issue could possibly be solved.
Dr Amos Danielli of the Alexander Kofkin Faculty of Engineering at Bar-Ilan University, and his team of researcher have developed a new diagnostic technology that will drastically reduce testing time.
A laser magnet employed by the team at Bar-Ilan University. Image credit: Bar-Ilan University.
While existing COVID-19 diagnostic methods take around one hour to complete, Danielli’s new platform will take that time down to only 15 minutes. Through a combination of optics and magnetic particles, Danielli’s technology is able to rapidly test 100 saliva samples of potentially infected patients and detect sensitive virus-specific RNA sequences.
Explaining the technology, Danielli says, “This development relies on the use of two small electromagnets, which are magnets powered by an electric current. By properly positioning them, we were able to create a strong magnetic field and collect all the thousands of fluorescent molecules from the entire solution and aggregate them inside the laser beam, thereby multiplying the signal strength by several orders of magnitude.”
He also states, “But that’s not all. Instead of pumping the solution, we alternately operate the electromagnets, once on the left and once on the right, moving the molecules from side to side, in and out of the laser beam. As they pass through the laser beam, they become illuminated. When they exit the light beam, they are no longer illuminated. This flickering allows us, without any additional procedures, to accurately determine whether a person has been exposed to coronavirus.”
Since the development of this technology, similar technologies have been developed for the detection of Zika virus, and is currently being used in the Israel Ministry of Health’s central virology laboratory at Tel Hashomer Hospital.
This laser technology could mean a huge advancement in the way medical professionals can slow and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Not only will this technology simplify the diagnostic process, but the accuracy of detection will be improved. Danielli is currently searching for investors to accelerate the development of a coronavirus kit for introduction to hospitals using the new platform.
Author: Chloe Nolan