US studies masks to detect SARS-CoV-2 in breath

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2021-07-05 03:38:40

(CHK) Recently, researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University are working together to create wearable biosensors integrated into fabrics, essentially allowing wearable devices that can detect pathogens, such as masks.

In a study published this week in the journal Nature Biotechnology, these wearable biosensors connected to standard KN95 masks can detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in vapors. a person’s breathing.

The sensor is activated by buttons and gives results on a reading range in 90 minutes, the researchers say. They add that the level of accuracy is comparable to standard COVID PCR tests, which detect the virus’ genetic material using a laboratory technique called polymerase chain reaction.

To create the sensor, the scientists relied on a technique that involves extracting and freezing the molecular machinery that cells use to read and write genetic material. Pressing a button on the mask releases a small amount of water on the sensor that reactivates the lyophilized ingredients so that they can generate a signal in response to the presence of the target molecule.

Biosensors can be used to detect bacteria, toxins and other chemical agents. A digital signal can then be sent to a mobile app, allowing the user to track exposure to a variety of substances.


Medical masks are common items during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This technology could be incorporated into lab coats for scientists working with hazardous materials or pathogens, scrubs for doctors and nurses, or uniforms for frontline workers. Heads and military personnel may be exposed to pathogens or dangerous toxins, such as nerve gases,” said Donghia, a scientist at the Wyss Institute and a co-author of the study.

The researchers say that they can now perform virus tests on blood, urine, stool and saliva samples. These are all things that need to be tested in a lab, but theoretically these masks could serve as a portable test at home.


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