July 26, 2023: According to researchers, the method is 77% to 83% accurate in detecting any coronavirus variations in a space. llama nanobody created by llamas and their relatives is connected to an electrode to form the biosensor. Read to know!
A device slightly larger than a toaster that was developed by researchers may quickly identify the airborne SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus!
As little as seven to 35 virus particles per litre of air can be detected in just five minutes, according to research published in Nature Communications on July 10.
According to Rajan Chakrabarty, an aerosol scientist at Washington University in St. Louis, that is roughly as sensitive as PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) nasal swab tests. For three years, his team "nonstop" worked on the detector, according to him.
It can be difficult to gather enough air to concentrate viral particles at detectable quantities when sampling airborne viruses. The amount of air sucked in during earlier attempts ranged from 2 to 8 litres per minute. Each minute, its detector draws in 1,000 litres of air.
According to Chakrabarty, by rapidly swirling liquid, "we create an artificial cyclone inside of the sampler" to trap the virus. The cyclone's wall traps and concentrates viruses for investigation. A HEPA filter linked to the gadget removes any viruses from the air that weren't caught in the liquid. The liquid is pumped to a biosensor five minutes after it has been collected.
HEPA is a kind of mechanical air filter with pleats. The U.S. Department of Energy's official definition of "high efficiency particulate air [filter]" is represented by this acronym. Theoretically, this kind of air filter can eliminate 99.97% or more of dust, pollen, mould, germs, and any other airborne particles smaller than 0.3 microns.
The llama nanobody, a specialised immune system protein created by llamas and their relatives that fights infections much like antibodies do but is smaller and maybe more durable than human antibodies, is connected to an electrode to form the biosensor.
The detector was delivered to the apartments of two COVID-19-infected individuals to be tested by the researchers. "The device was detecting even the trace amounts of virus being shed by the patients," Chakrabarty claims. The virus was not detectable in air taken from a vacant, well-ventilated conference room.
They have shown that it functions. According to Linsey Marr, an aerosol scientist at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg who focuses on the transmission of viruses, it can identify the virus in the air at low concentrations that would cause us to be concerned. She is also working on a detector but was not engaged in the study.
There are still some obstacles to get beyond. For instance, the gadget makes about the same amount of noise as a hoover or a ringing phone. According to Marr, that's probably too loud to use consistently in a classroom or office, but if used for 10 minutes, it might be acceptable.
According to Chakrabarty, building such detectors in a research facility costs between $1,400 and $1,900 (Rs 114786.70 and Rs 155781.95, respectively). Commercial versions might initially be too expensive for home use, but they might be used in public places like airports, hospitals, and other places to check for the virus, according to Marr.
Chakrabarty plans to eventually include llama nanobodies that can also detect other respiratory viruses, such influenza or respiratory syncytial virus.