Scientists from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) and the University of Valencia (UV) have developed a new system to detect SARS-Cov-2 in the ambient air.
A highly sensitive system
This new tool is based on a highly sensitive mass biosensor to continuously monitor signals for the presence of the virus in environmental aerosols. This prototype allows the evaluation of air quality and the identification of the new coronavirus in indoor environments such as houses, restaurants, and cinemas. Angel Maquieira, professor of the Department of Chemistry and director of the Institute of Molecular Detection and Technological Development (IDM), explains: “This type of spread is increasingly important, so preventive control strategies must take into account the spread of the virus through aerosols to effectively contain SARS-Cov-2”. The system we have developed is based on a mass biosensor that uses specific antibodies that can detect the SARS-Co-2 virus in the air. So it would be a new means of prevention to avoid the transmission of the virus.
How does it work?
To develop this model, several researchers in the Department have developed virus-like particles (VLPs) that are not infectious. Although the germ does not contain the SARS-Cov-2 genome, it does contain the four proteins that make up its structure, which allows it to be recognized by antibodies. “The biosensor has been evaluated on a laboratory scale and detects VLPs in the air in an environment that simulates a high viral load and provides a signal related to the viral load in the atmosphere. Thus, if a viral load is detected at a level that could be harmful to human health, it would provide an alarm signal. Therefore, it is a biosensor capable of detecting SARS-Cov-2 at critical concentrations,” as described by Augusto Juste, a predoctoral researcher at the UPV’s IDM Institute. The sensor is easy to use, cheap and versatile. Therefore, it could become an accessible detection technology in the near future.