The World Health Organisation has regularly said that rapid testing of patients with COVID-19 is critical to controlling the pandemic, especially with lockdown measures easing across the globe. A new research project will explore the development of a low-cost, rapid, COVID-19 diagnosis system using nanophotonic fluorescence enhancement.
The pilot study led by academics at the University of Bristol will use simulant fluorescently labelled RNA to develop an assay for the detection of coronavirus.
Professor Martin Cryan, principal investigator for the project, has been working in this field for many years and has shown how very small antennas, known as nanoantennas, can enhance the amount of light given out by fluorophores, which can dramatically improve the sensitivity of biosensors.
The research project involves collaboration from the University of Cardiff who are developing DNA and RNA extraction techniques for pathogen detection.
Martin Cryan, Professor of Applied Electromagnetics and Photonics in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Bristol, said: "The development of a rapid, low-cost test for COVID-19 is of critical importance for tackling this pandemic. We think our approach is also flexible enough to be used in any future pandemics.
"We would like to thank the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute for giving us the opportunity to bid for this MRC Confidence in Concept (CiC) funding."
Future projects will team up with Cardiff and commercial partners to develop a complete microfluidics-based approach that could lead to a handheld device for use in GP surgeries and hospital wards.