The KIST biosensor detects Covid-19 accurately in 20 min.


A Korean research team has developed a biosensor platform capable of detecting the Covid-19 virus in 20 minutes regardless of the type of variants. Its sensitivity is as high as PCR tests.

On Wednesday, the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) said the research team led by Drs. Lee Kwan-hyi and Kim Ho-jun of the KIST Biomaterials Research Center have developed a biosensor that can overcome the shortcomings of PCR testing.

The diagram shows the replication and infection process of SARS-CoV-2 (a); microfluidic synthesis of synthetic virus and receptor-based detection strategy (b); and portable electrical biosensor and its detection performance (c). (Source: KIST)

The PCR test is the main diagnostic tool with the highest accuracy, but it takes at least three or four hours to get the result. In contrast, a rapid antigen test gives the result quickly. However, a quick test tends to show low accuracy.

The KIST research team focused on angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the main receptor used by the Covid-19 virus for cell entry.

As Covid-19 virus variants also bind to ACE2 to enter the human body, a highly sensitive biosensor could detect ACE2 binding, the research team thought.

The research team designed a wearable electrical biosensor platform based on ACE2. Next, the team created a synthetic virus that mimics important characteristics of the Covid-19 virus, such as size and structure. This synthetic virus is safe because it does not cause infection.

According to the research team, the biosensor platform successfully detected the Covid-19 virus within 20 min and showed sensitivity comparable to that of molecular diagnostic tests (165 copies/mL).

“It is possible to develop a diagnostic system capable of detecting variants on site by combining the ACE2 receptor with a highly sensitive semiconductor biosensor. We plan to standardize the sensor and bring it to market as soon as possible,” Lee said. “It will help build an infectious disease prevention system and a social safety net.”

Kim said the synthetic virus developed in the study could be handled in a low biosafety level (BSL) site because it has no transmission potency. It can also be used in other research for a virus diagnostic platform. “We will continue to study the optimization of a highly sensitive precision detection platform using the synthetic virus.”

The study, titled “SARS-CoV-2 Variant Screening Using a Virus-Receptor-Based Electrical Biosensor,” was published in Nano Letters.


About Author

Comments are closed.