Turkish Scientists Create 99% Reliable COVID-19 Test in 10 Seconds

Scientists at a Turkish university research center claim to have an ultra-fast 99% accurate coronavirus test that can return results in 10 seconds, all without the need to take an uncomfortable nasal swab.

Diagnovir, developed by researchers at Bilkent University, is a diagnostic kit that, the team explains, uses nanotechnology to detect COVID-19 in a patient.

First, a swab is taken from the patient’s mouth before mixing it with a solution. The mixture is added to a pathogen detection chip. “It detects the presence of pathogens with great precision by receiving a fluorescent signal,” said Ali Aytac Seyman, a researcher at the National Center for Nanotechnology Research (UNAM).

He then noted that, unlike the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, the most widely used, which detects specific genetic material in a sample before amplifying it, Diagnovir “focuses on the existence or non-existence of the virus using advanced optical methods. “

This, he says, can give a patient a positive result in 5-10 seconds, but it would take up to 20 seconds if the result is negative. PCR test analysis can take much longer.

The researchers are trying to get approval from the Turkish authorities to begin mass production of the kits in the next two months. They hope that they will eventually replace PCR testing.

“Quickly discover that a person is positive [por la COVID-19] then quarantining it is very important to control the pandemic, “Bilkent University Rector Abdullah Atalar told Anadolu Agency. He suggested that this type of technology could also be used to detect other coronaviruses.

Has nanotechnology been used to detect coronaviruses before?

Yes, and other experts around the world have been using this line of research to develop their own rapid tests for COVID-19.

“The coronavirus is a particle with a diameter of 150 nanometers,” Atalar said, adding that UNAM researchers have been working on nanoparticles for years. “This is exactly their field of expertise. As soon as the first cases were reported in Turkey, they started working on the project.”

In 2019 South Korean scientists also published details about the use of gold nanoparticles to test for MERS-CoV, the coronavirus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Such a test takes 10 minutes for the results to be visible and can be carried out in the early stages of the disease.

Using this logic, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the University of Naples Federico II have separately conducted their own studies to create a nanotechnology-based test for COVID-19.

What kinds of tests are currently being used?

The PCR test is said to be the gold standard for COVID-19; however, the results may take some time as samples must be sent to a laboratory for analysis with specialized equipment. The deadlines range from 3 or 4 hours, in the best case, up to 48 hours depending on the saturation of the laboratories.

More recently, lateral flow tests or rapid antigen tests have been introduced that are supposed to give the COVID-19 test result in less than 30 minutes. However, they have doubts have arisen about the precision of this test, and some patients, for example those who already have symptoms, are advised not to do it due to the risk of a false negative.

ELISA-type tests, which detect antibodies as well as antigens, can also be used, although they are less widespread. The process is relatively simple but requires a specialized laboratory.

Testing difficulties are one of the biggest puzzles in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.