COVID-19 nanotube-based sensor

A new rapid diagnostic, based on nanotubes, might be the answer to rapid coronavirus diagnosis...
04 November 2021
Presented by Chris Smith
Production by Chris Smith.


a picture of a medical swab


“Test! Test! Test!” was the instruction from the World Health Organisation when the Covid-19 pandemic began to take hold around the world. But it took months for many countries to build up testing capacity, and what we’re still very bad at is rapid, so-called “point-of-care” testing that can spot an infected person quickly, cheaply and conveniently. Lateral flow tests do this to an extent, but they miss cases, they’re fiddly, and they require unpleasant nasal swabs. Now scientists at MIT think they might have a solution, both for this pandemic and future ones involving different infections. They’ve developed a sensor system comprising a fibre optic to which a special coating is applied that can recognise specific viruses. When it does so, it emits light of a specific colour, signalling a detection. Michael Strano told Chris Smith how it works…


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