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Fields & Applications COVID-19, Spectroscopy

Dime-a-Dozen Diagnosis

Current methods for SARS-CoV-2 detection rely heavily on RT-PCR – an admittedly highly accurate but costly technique that requires trained personnel and significant lab space – and it cannot be described as rapid. Now, researchers at Penn Medicine have developed a new smartphone-based test for COVID-19 that delivers rapid results (within 4 minutes) with 90 percent accuracy. 

Known as RAPID, which stands for real-time accurate portable impedimetric detection, the diagnostic test is built around electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS), which transforms the binding event between viral spike protein and human ACE2 receptor into an electrical signal that can be read by a smartphone. 

The test can be applied to both saliva and nasal samples, and is able to detect SARS-CoV-2 at low concentrations (1.16 PFU/ml). Perhaps just as importantly, it is also cheap and easy to produce; the electrodes can be mass-produced using screen-printers, meaning the entire test costs just $4.67. High-frequency testing, particularly in remote and disadvantaged areas, has never looked so likely.

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  1. Penn Medicine News (2021). Available at: https://bit.ly/35F7twx 

About the Author

Lauren Robertson

By the time I finished my degree in Microbiology I had come to one conclusion – I did not want to work in a lab. Instead, I decided to move to the south of Spain to teach English. After two brilliant years, I realized that I missed science, and what I really enjoyed was communicating scientific ideas – whether that be to four-year-olds or mature professionals. On returning to England I landed a role in science writing and found it combined my passions perfectly. Now at Texere, I get to hone these skills every day by writing about the latest research in an exciting, creative way.

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