Engineered by engineers, the mask has tiny, disposable sensors that can be attached to other face masks
A new prototype of face mask, equipped with biosensors portable, can to diagnose on 90 minutes if the person wearing it has COVID-19, according to a study published today Natute Biotechnology in which it is also stated that it would be possible to adapt the technology for other pathogens and toxins
The sensors are based on lyophilized cellular machinery that the research team had developed for use in diagnosing viruses such as Ebola and Zika.
The mask includes a small water reservoir that is released at the push of a button when the user is ready to test, hydrating the lyophilized components of the sensor. SARS-CoV-2, which analyze the breath drops accumulated inside the mask.
The results, which are available in 90 minutes, are only displayed inside the mask, to respect privacy.
One of the researchers Peter Nguyen, from Harvard University, highlighted that they have reduced “an entire diagnostic laboratory to a small sensor based on synthetic biology that works with any mask and combines the high precision of PCR tests with the speed and low cost of the tests of antigens ”.
The sensors could also be incorporated into clothing, such as lab coats, which “could offer a new way to monitor the exposure of healthcare workers to various pathogens or other threats,” MIT said in a statement.
The lead author of the study, James collins, from MIT, said they have shown that they can lyophilize “a wide range of synthetic biology sensors to detect viral or bacterial nucleic acids, as well as toxic chemicals, including nerve toxins.”
The team has applied for a patent on the technology and now hopes to work with a company to further develop the sensors. According to Collins, “most likely” the mask is the first application that could be available.
The sensors and mask are based on a technology that Collins began developing several years ago, after demonstrating in 2014 that the proteins and nucleic acids needed to create synthetic genetic networks that react to specific molecules could be embedded in paper.
Subsequently, they began to work on incorporating these sensors into textiles, with the aim of creating a lab coat for healthcare workers or other people with possible exposure to pathogens.
To make wearable sensors, the researchers embedded the lyophilized components in a small section of synthetic tissue, where they are surrounded by a silicone elastomer ring, preventing the sample from evaporating or diffusing outside the sensor.
The team was finishing their work on wearable sensors in early 2020, when COVID-19 began to spread around the world and they decided to use their technology to create a way to diagnose the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
With information from EFE
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