New 5 minute coronavirus test delivers clear results on infection
A new type of sensor device from the German health technology company Digital Diagnostics AG can be used for immediate tests for the new SARS coronavirus. In comparison to currently available rapid tests, the Digid Cantisense™ SARS-CoV-2 Test directly detects the virus over the entire course of the infection and can be read immediately, without the need for a laboratory.
The Digid Cantisense™ SARS-CoV-2 Test is created as a pocket size lab and can be used in four steps anywhere on site by general practitioners, paramedics and nursing staff without any training. Digid Cantisense™ SARS-CoV-2 Test provides test results with greater accuracy at any point during the course of the infection than previously available rapid test strips. The first prototypes of the biosensor will be available by end of April with first production devices by mid-May.
Compared to previously known rapid tests looking for the presence of antibodies in the test-liquid, the Digid Cantisense™ SARS-CoV-2 Test leads to a clear “YES” or “NO” result regarding the presence of the actual virus in the test fluid and eliminates the time- and cost consuming transport of samples to a laboratory.
The new digital diagnostic platform enables the rapid testing of millions of people and real-time monitoring of the disease spreading. By connecting the digital sensor to a secure, encrypted analytics platform, regional viral hotspots can be detected in real-time and immediately contained.
On March 22 the World Health Organization WHO pointed out that lockdowns alone are not sufficient to combat the pandemic. It called on European governments to drastically increase the testing procedure to find and isolate those who are infected. “We have a simple message for all countries: Test, test, test,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General at the WHO. The Digid Cantisense™ SARS-CoV-2 Test can make a significant contribution to this.
Detection of the virus instead of antibodies
digid - Digital Diagnostics AG has founded a high-ranking consortium of virologists, antibody experts, research laboratories, digitization experts and pharmaceutical companies. The goal of the consortium is to rapidly develop an application for the direct detection of the virus using digid’s novel digital biosensor.
The scientists of the consortium are convinced that the approach of directly determining the virus using a highly specific biosensor test can significantly reduce the diagnostic window between infection and detection of the virus. With the 5 Minute Test developed by digid, the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be measured using micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) without the need for time-consuming sample preparation.
micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS)
The Digid Cantisense™ SARS-CoV-2 Test is based on cantilevers, which are integrated onto a microchip with the size of a fingernail. These nanomechanical spring bars made of silicon are extremely thin and can be bent by the application of even a tiny force. This makes them highly sensitive biochemical sensors. With the Digid Cantisense™ SARS-CoV-2 Test, the cantilevers are coated with a capture layer of antibodies. When applied to the chip, these antibodies bind any viruses contained in the test fluid. When the new coronavirus binds to the capture layer, changes in surface tension cause mechanical bending of thee cantilevers, which generates an electrical signal on the chip.
Functionality of the biosensor chip (illustrative)
After a short analysis duration of only five minutes, the result can be seen on a simple reader device and electronically processed as a signal. The reader device, which is equipped with a SIM card, sends the result automatically and anonymously to a secure analytics platform immediately.
Four steps in five minutes: The new Digid Cantisense™ SARS-CoV-2 Test
Faster and more accurate than other rapid tests
The results of the Digid Cantisense™ SARS-CoV-2 Test can give a clear “YES” or “NO” statement about the presence of the virus in the test fluid. The great advantage of this method is that the virus can be detected directly — with a very high accuracy. In contrast, all other rapid tests known to date are based on the detection of antibodies. But antibodies are not detectable in plasma until 7 to 10 days after infection. However, those infected are already infectious in the first week of contact, which is one of the reasons for the rapid spread of the pandemic in all countries. There is currently no other reliable, cost-effective rapid test that can measure the virus directly in near-real time and at a very early stage during the incubation phase.
Dr. Konstantin Kloppstech, Chief Technology Officer at Digital Diagnostics AG, says: “In developing our test, we can draw on research and development work on our biosensor technology that we have already done to measure a wide range of biomarkers. This is why we do not need funding nor time for basic research, as the method is already available on a laboratory scale. We simply want to share our knowledge with science and industry.”
Big Data: Sensor data enables precise status reports
By connecting the digital sensor to a secure analytics platform, the numerous sensor data can be linked with geodata and processed anonymously for big-data applications. This would allow existing infection dashboards to be enhanced with this data to create truly accurate tools that detect emerging regional hotspots of virus spread in near-real time. Newly emerging chains of infection can then be effectively interrupted or contained. Restrictions on freedom of movement could also be much more flexible and regionally limited, and the scarce resources of health administrations and hospitals could be used much more purposefully and efficiently.
Mirsad Devic, Chief Digital Officer at digid, says: “From the very beginning, we have paid attention to leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Big Data in the development of our biosensor technology for the measurement of a wide range of biomarkers. This interface to digital applications now also benefits our Digid Cantisense™ SARS-CoV-2 Test.”
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