Novel multi-technology Test can Identify Covid-19 and its variants in 5 minutes

06/21/2021

Coronavirus has caused enough losses to humankind. That is why scientists were trying to get rid of it quickly. Diagnosis and tests are the first steps of every treatment. According to scientists, one should preferably detect the disease as soon as possible. The reason is, the quicker one would detect the disease, the quicker one would be able to defeat the disease. From the early days of the pandemic, researchers have tried to figure out the fastest possible way to diagnose the ailment mainly caused by the virus. 

Also, experts have shifted their research mode towards identifying different strains of the virus through an efficient set of tests. Recently the news has overwhelmed the world media, explaining that researchers have succeeded with their goal. They have devised an efficient yet sensitive test that would detect the Covid-19 in just 5 minutes. This test utilizes the efficient technology of nanopore. It works with (AI) artificial intelligence.

The Study From Osaka University

Experts say that only highly accurate and fastest detection devices can combat deadly diseases. The recent study has raised a similar perspective. Professor Masateru Taniguchi, Shohei Minami, and Kazunori Tomoro formulated a study sharing how to detect viruses using electrophoretic rays and electric fields. For this purpose, they used a nanopore measuring unit, nanopore module, and artificial intelligence software. They have their study published in the "Nature" journal.  

The researchers from the Osaka University have experimented with the strains of the virus. These viruses were small enough to pass a pore of nanometer dimension. That's why experts took the help of artificial intelligence. They connected a machine to test the virus strains. As a result, experts have made their technology effective in identifying different Coronavirus and seasonal cold varieties.

Professor Masateru Taniguchi, the senior author of the study, explained that their technique could identify every discrete particle of the virus. Indeed, this innovation has enough potential to change the diagnostic process of Covid-19 completely. 

The Experimentation 

Firstly, experts drilled nanopores in the silicon nitride sheet with a silicon substrate. These pores were just 300 nanometers wide. In other words, their diameters were even less than 1 micrometer. Medical experts already used these pores for the identification of DNA strands and bacteria. Next, experts implanted two electrodes of Ag/AgCl as well. Finally, they added a specimen and a buffer PBS (1x phosphate-buffered Saline) for better experimentation. 

Later, experts passed the virus particles through the membrane. Generally, the direction of the viruses was from cis to trans side. Meanwhile, fast-flowing electrophoretic rays partially blocked their passage. These rays were created by the migration of charged particles of the electric field. 

Why Did Scientists Need a Faster Technique?

There are multiple variants of the particular virus already present and identified. However, it is still problematic to differentiate among different particles to identify the disease-causing agent.

RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Technique)

It is one of the trusted methods to diagnose coronavirus strands. Unfortunately, this authentic approach did not work well to satisfy the viability of the current situation. Also, it demands a high sum of capital, lab accessories, and above all, time. Thus it is a time taking process that slows down the treatment frequency of the patients. Some patients reached their crucial stage due to the delay in their diagnosis. Generally, it took 24-48 hours to get the reports of a PCR test. 

Are The Tests 100% Authentic?

According to the experts, the corona tests are not 100% guaranteed to be authentic. Especially during the days of PCR, the doubt rate gets even higher. Recently, Chinese experts stood up to test the sensitivity of the PCR. They obtained 29% Covid-19 negatives across the 51 participants. Interestingly, The US experts returned the same data with enormously different results. The US experts showed from 75 to 85% Corona-negative participants. Concludingly, PCR testing could provide variable results based upon the efficiency of the machines and the experts.

Even now, if the PCR generates 90% accurate results, it would still share a chance of not identifying 10% corona-positive patients. 

Therefore, there can be 200000 patients who have been diagnosed falsely. 

Similarly, experts of John Hopkins stated that testing the patient too early can provide negative PCR results. Hence, there is a favorable chance of developing the ailment later. Thus, there was a need to develop a speedy process that reduces doubts regarding the diagnostic procedure.

A Previous Try To Provide Quicker Results than PCR

Last year, a renowned pharmaceutical company introduced a Molecular Point To Care test to quickly diagnose the Covid-19. Soon, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved this test kit. Also, it provided the (EUA) Emergency Use Authorization certificate to the makers in a short span. The test was able to identify the strands within a few minutes. The makers claimed that the test could deliver positive tests within three hundred seconds while it can take up to 13 minutes to decide the negativity of the test. 

The test kit more or less resembled a toaster size and weighed 6.6 pounds only. The testing technique was based upon destructing the genome for the virus particle identification. The experts used to study the detangled genome after amplification. Indeed, it was the leading discovery in testing and diagnostic approaches towards Covid-19 and other viruses.

Users appreciated the device for its portability and potential diagnosis. The makers expected to entertain 5 million tests within 30 days. The best thing about this test was, it could be used outside the laboratory. In other words, physicians and other medical staff could use the test kit in their clinics.

However, the only fault with this test kit was its authenticity. Experts questioned why the machine takes five minutes for a positive test and thirteen minutes for a negative test. Also, interpreting the correct genome was not easy for every health professional. So the team from the University of Osaka or Handai fueled up to provide a faster way to diagnose the virus. 

How Does This Technique Work?

The new test is a fusion of two technologies. According to the experts, this research is a good blend of two technologies that is as follows:-

Machine Learning

Nanopore technique

The ionic flow decreases around the silicon nitride membrane. This decreased ionic flow creates a modification in the electric current, identifying different strains of the virus. So, the identification depends upon the two things.

The total decrease in the ionic flow

Alteration in the flow of the electric current

Note: Experts measured the particles through Nano SCOUTER™.

These two factors thus, create an ionic current versus time waveform. It determines the structure, size, nature of the particle, and surface charge of the particle. Hence, the process races against time to provide complete information about the particle incorporated in the nanopore module.

At first, the waveforms of two virus particles overlapped. That is why the resulting histograms obstructed the high precision of the devices. To make the process spontaneously authentic, the experts sought the help of machine learning. They used 40 positive PCRs and 40 negative tests to train the artificial machine. That is why now the device is eligible to conclude about the particles within 5 minutes. With this device, experts can identify the virus strands without extracting the virus genome. That is why the time for virus detection has been reduced in this process.

The Efficiency Of The Technique

The device has satisfied experts completely. According to them, this system works best for differentiating among different variants of Coronavirus. Previously, the minute yet complete differentiation was not possible with a single device within a quick span.

The AI system affectionately determines all the sets of Coronavirus, including HCoV-229E, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV type 1 and type 2. One of the specialists has marked the test's efficiency rate up to 96%. At the same time, the rate for its sensitivity is 90% within 300 seconds.

What Experts Hope For The Future?

Scientists are hopeful that their research would change the pandemic phase into an easy one. There would be a massive decrease in the time used for diagnosis. The specialists would be easily utilizing that time for better treatment. In addition, it would help them to focus more upon other factors significant in this hour of the pandemic.

Professor Taniguchi explains that we would be saving many dollars. The PCR test is a costly procedure that often puts a financial strain upon the patients and the medical authorities. Therefore, this test would be an expenditure cutter for both the government and the infected person. Moreover, this device has high precision.

Conclusion

Without the correct diagnosis, specialists can not devise authentic medication for the patients. The previous diagnostic testing (PCR) for Coronavirus was time-consuming and allegedly least authentic. In the year 2020, Abbot came up with a testing kit with the molecular technique.

Currently, Osaka University researchers have shared another technique to identify covid-19 strands within 5 minutes. The particular technique follows a nanopore module, artificial intelligence system, and a measuring machine for better authenticity. Experts expect that this technique would be helpful for not only coronaviruses but also other diseases.