Home Health DNA Sensor Can Spot When COVID Is Contagious

DNA Sensor Can Spot When COVID Is Contagious


By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 24, 2021 (HealthDay Information) — A brand new DNA sensor can detect viruses and inform if they’re infectious or not in minutes, a brand new examine finds.

The sensor was developed through the use of DNA know-how, and doesn’t require the necessity to pretreat check samples. Researchers demonstrated this system with the human adenovirus (which causes colds and flu) and the virus that causes COVID-19.

“The infectivity standing is essential info that may inform us if sufferers are contagious or if an environmental disinfection technique works,” mentioned researcher Ana Peinetti, who did the work whereas a postdoctoral researcher on the College of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

“We developed these extremely particular DNA molecules, named aptamers, that not solely acknowledge viruses but additionally can differentiate the infectivity standing of the virus,” Peinetti mentioned in a college information launch. She now leads a analysis group on the College of Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Researcher Yi Lu, a professor emeritus of chemistry at UIUC, defined how present measures of viral RNA is probably not an correct indicator of contagiousness.

“With the virus that causes COVID-19, it has been proven that the extent of viral RNA has minimal correlation with the virus’s infectivity. Within the early stage when an individual is contaminated, the viral RNA is low and tough to detect, however the individual is very contagious,” he mentioned within the launch.

“When an individual is recovered and never infectious, the viral RNA degree might be very excessive. Antigen exams [commonly used for COVID] observe the same sample, although even later than viral RNA. Subsequently, viral RNA and antigen exams are each poor in informing whether or not a virus is infectious or not. It could end in delayed remedy or quarantine, or untimely launch of those that should be contagious,” Lu mentioned.

The brand new sensor technique can produce ends in half-hour to 2 hours. As a result of it requires no remedy of the pattern, it may be used on viruses that won’t develop within the lab.

“We selected human adenovirus to exhibit our sensor as a result of it’s an rising waterborne viral pathogen of concern in the USA and all through the world,” mentioned researcher Benito Marinas, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at UIUC.


“The potential to detect infectious adenovirus within the presence of viruses rendered noninfectious by water disinfectants, and different probably interfering background substances in wastewaters and contaminated pure waters, gives an unprecedented novel strategy. We see potential for such know-how to supply extra strong safety of environmental and public well being,” Marinas mentioned.

The sensing approach might be utilized to different viruses, the researchers mentioned, by tweaking the DNA to focus on totally different pathogens.

With the power to tell apart noninfectious from infectious viruses, the researchers hope the sensor might assist in understanding the mechanisms of an infection.

The report was printed Sept. 22 within the journal Science Advances.

Extra info

The U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute has extra on viruses.

SOURCE: College of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, information launch, Sept. 22, 2021

WebMD Information from HealthDay

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