One of the most common problems with controlling COVID-19 is that there is no way to tell if a person is coronavirus positive or not before the symptoms show up. Some times a person might not show any symptoms at all, which makes it even worse. Imagine having a test that diagnoses a person with COVID-19 before having any single sign or symptom. It would help for making timely diagnoses and eventually a successful recovery from coronavirus.
The researchers from the University of Colorado has worked on this same vision and used technology to create a fast-tracking diagnostic test. If this test becomes available, it would not only help to control the COVID-19 pandemic but also change the way to tackle any new disease outbreak in the future.
Nicholas Meyerson from the department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB) at CU Boulder says that; “With most infectious diseases, by the time you develop symptoms you have already been contagious for days and out and about spreading it to people.“
Meyerson is also the chief executive officer at Darwin Biosciences. He is hopeful that this new testing device would help to identify the infection at an early stage and tell a person that he is sick before his body tells him.
Meyerson is working Sara Sawyer, from the BioFrontiers Institute for understanding the pathogenesis and immunogenic response of the human body. Most of the COVID-19 diagnostic tests are based on antibody testing but these two researchers have taken this testing to another level.
They say; “Antibodies don’t arise in your body until after the copy number of a pathogen has gotten very large, noting that this can take days or—in the case of coronavirus—more than two weeks. They are the last chapter in the immunology textbook. We specialize in the first chapter—the smoke signals that infected cells send off to indicate a pathogen is present.”
This term “smoke signal” is nothing new. These are just the nucleic acids that rise up in any cell that is exposed to a viral attack and within a few hours, it is released in saliva. This project got a $3 million funding grant given by the Department of Defense.
Together, Sawyer and Meyerson are all set to develop this new diagnostic tool which would be faster, efficient and cost-friendly. Other researchers on this project include Robin Dowell (MCDB), Roy Parker (Biochem) and Dr. Eric Poeschla from the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.
Sawyer said that this test would be extremely useful because knowing your medical condition before even getting sick would save them to spread infection. In a way, it is the best strategy to control a disease outbreak. In a way, this new technology would fill a void and help to get over any pandemic in the future.
This test works by saliva testing. The suspected patient is asked to spit in a receptacle. It only takes a few minutes just like a home-based pregnancy test to show results. The prototype of this testing kit is ready and the research term hopes it to be readily available soon.