A new way to quickly count and identify viruses – sciencedaily

A professor at Lancaster University has introduced a new concept to quickly analyze the presence of a cold virus to coronaviruses.

Based on the analysis of chemical elements, the methodology, adapted from an analytical technique used to identify metallic nanoparticles, is able to detect the presence of viruses in just 20 seconds.

Although the tests have to be done in a laboratory, they could be used to quickly identify whether people admitted to hospitals have been infected with a virus – allowing clinicians to decide on treatments and also to admit patients to wards. ‘isolation.

The proposed technique, called Single Virus Inductive Plasma Mass Spectroscopy (SV ICP-MS) analysis, can be used to rapidly determine families of viruses. However, while the concept could identify that a person has one type of coronavirus for example, it would not be able to determine the type of coronavirus, or variants. Further testing would still be needed to find out the specific virus a person has been infected with.

While SV ICP-MS is not an alternative to tests developed to specifically identify types of Covid-2 infections, it could be used to distinguish whether viruses from a family, such as coronaviruses, are present or not. If a virus is detected, more specific tests will be necessary.

The concept, developed by Professor Claude Degueldre of the Engineering Department at Lancaster University, uses diluted samples of fluids, such as nasal mucus or saliva, from patients. A plasma torch is used to atomize and ionize the viral particles. Measurements of intensities for selected masses of virus elements provide rapid results to show the presence of a virus or not. This process works on both DNA and RNA virus types in seconds.

Additional assays such as existing sequencing techniques can be tested to complete the identification, although they can take up to two days.

Another key advantage is the ability to quickly test large numbers of samples.

Professor Degueldre said: “What we are offering here is not a new Covid test, but a new concept to quickly find out if there are any viruses present. It would be helpful if people are sick but we don’t know if they have a virus or other health problem that makes them sick. This concept would indicate to the clinical team whether or not a virus exists to inform early treatment actions and other measures such as the need for it. Isolation More detailed tests would still be needed to discover the exact virus infection, but the results of these take longer.

“Another application of the concept is to test water samples from sewer systems or downstream river flows. The results would allow public health experts to identify areas of cities that have viral outbreaks.

The concept is still at an early stage and more research and experience is needed to further develop the process.

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