Diagnosing COVID-19: Challenges and potential solutions
Current diagnostic approach to detect the SARS-CoV-2 is based on detection of the viral RNA in swab samples using quantitative PCR (qPCR). The qPCR technology is relatively accurate, but available devices are bulky, expensive, and employ laborious and lengthy protocols that take ~2–3 hours. Current serological assays to detect the anti-viral IgG/IgM antibodies in serum are rapid (~10 minutes), but have very low sensitivity, and therefore cannot be used to rule out the disease. Here, using an optical modulation biosensing (OMB) technology, we demonstrate highly sensitive molecular assays for rapid detection of the viral RNA, as well as quantitative serological assays to detect specific anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in blood samples. Previously, we demonstrated that the technology is 4–9 times faster than qPCR and provide results within 20-30 minutes instead of hours. A prototype of the platform has been successfully used to test hundreds of suspected Zika samples with much higher sensitivity and specificity than the current state-of-the-art tests. Our advances will be applicable to a broad spectrum of serological and nucleic acids-based virus detection assays, enabling rapid response in future viral outbreaks and providing benefits to a wide range of health applications.
About the author: Dr. Danielli is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Engineering in Bar Ilan University, Israel. In 1997, Dr. Danielli received his B.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering from Tel-Aviv University, Magna cum Laude. In 2002 and 2010, he received his M.Sc. (Magna cum Laude) and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Tel Aviv University. Dr. Danielli published multiple papers and patents in the field of biophotonics and biodetection. His research includes development of highly sensitive detection tools for biomarkers. Currently, he focuses on rapid and highly sensitive detection of viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, Zika, dengue, and West-Nile. Dr. Danielli is also a three-time entrepreneur with 15 years of experience in executive R&D positions and in the development of multidisciplinary systems in the medical device, communications, and solar energy industries.