Covid-19 Diagnostic Based on MIT Technology Might be tested on Patient Samples Soon

As more Covid-19 cases appear in the United States and around the world, the need for fast, easy-to-use diagnostic tests is becoming ever more pressing. A startup company spun out from MIT is now working on a paper-based test that can deliver results in under half an hour, based on technology developed at MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES). Cambridge-based E25Bio, which developed the test, is now preparing to submit it to the FDA for emergency use authorization, which would grant temporary approval for using the device on patient samples during public health emergencies.

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The technology behind the new E25Bio diagnostic was developed by Lee Gehrke, the Hermann L.F. von Helmholtz Professor at IMES, and other members of his lab, including Irene Bosch, a former IMES research scientist who is now the CTO of E25Bio. The tests consist of strips of paper that are coated with antibodies that bind to a specific viral protein. A second antibody is attached to gold nanoparticles, and the patient’s sample is added to a solution of those particles. The test strip is then dipped in this solution. If the viral protein is present, it attaches to the antibodies on the paper strip as well as the nanoparticle-bound antibodies, and a colored spot appears on the strip within 20 minutes.

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