Scientists have developed a new method to identify individual virus particles based on changes in electrical current as they pass through ultra-small pores. A progress that they claim could lead to new rapid COVID-19 tests.
The study, published in the journal ACS Sensors, demonstrated a new system for identifying individual virus particles using an algorithm trained to detect changes in the current flowing through silicon nanopores.
According to the scientists, including those from Osaka University in Japan, the work could result in quick and accurate screening tests for diseases like COVID-19 and influenza.
In the new method, the scientists said that tiny nanopores were added to a layer of silicon nitride compound only 50 nanometers (nm) thick.
The layer is suspended on a silicon wafer, they said, adding that ions migrate through the nanopores in a process called electrophoresis when a voltage difference is applied to the solution on either side of the wafer.
According to the study, the movement of the ions can be monitored by the current they generate. When a virus particle enters a nanopore, it blocks the passage of some ions, causing a temporary drop in current.
Each break-in reflects the particle’s physical properties such as volume, surface charge and shape, the scientists said, adding that this measure can be used to identify the type of virus.
Using artificial intelligence (AI), the research team developed a classification algorithm that was trained on signals from known viruses to determine the identity of new samples.
The scientists said the computer can distinguish the differences in waveforms of electric current that cannot be identified with human eyes, which enables highly accurate virus classification.
In addition to the coronavirus, the system was tested with pathogens such as adenovirus, influenza A and influenza B.
“By combining single particle nanopore sensing with AI, we were able to achieve highly accurate identification of multiple virus species,” said lead author of the study, Makusu Tsutsui of Osaka University.
The researchers believe that coronaviruses are particularly well suited for this technique, as their spiky outer proteins can even allow different strains to be classified separately.
“This work will help develop a virus test kit that outperforms traditional virus inspection methods,” said Tomoji Kawai, another co-author on the study.
Compared to other rapid tests like PCR or antibody-based screenings, the researchers said the new method is much faster and doesn’t require expensive reagents.
They believe the new technology can lead to improved diagnostic tests for emerging viruses that cause infectious diseases like COVID-19.
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)