January 26, 2023

$51 “Lab-in-a-Backpack” Offers Fast, Affordable, Reliable COVID-19 Testing

$51 “Lab-in-a-backpack.” Credit: Lin et al., 2022, PLOS ONE, CC-BY 4.0
Portable, noninvasive $51 screening package could aid resource-poor areas, refugee camps, catastrophe zones.
Researchers have developed a $51 “lab-in-a-backpack” that could broaden the ability of resource-poor regions to use quick, trusted, noninvasive detection of SARS-CoV-2, the infection that causes COVID-19. E. Emily Lin and colleagues at Queen Mary University of London outline the brand-new system in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on January 26, 2022.
Efforts to bring COVID-19 vaccines to resource-poor countries are underway, however will take 2 to 3 more years to attain complete vaccination. In the meantime, SARS-CoV-2 testing is required to avoid spread, by making it possible for such steps as contact tracing, early detection in healthcare workers, safe travel, and other advantages. Many regions lack the monetary and useful capability to carry out a sufficient quantity of reliable testing.

To improve COVID-19 screening choices, Lin and associates have now produced a $51 lab-in-a-backpack system. This system utilizes noninvasive saliva tasting rather of an uncomfortable nose or throat swab. It processes 6 samples in 90 minutes using a technique called reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP), which has similar level of sensitivity to PCR screening. The cost of the chemicals required to process each saliva sample is $3.50; industrial LAMP tests cost $7 to $24 in bulk.
The new, standalone system is portable and can be utilized in settings that lack expensive infrastructure. It includes a centrifuge, named CentriDrive, that is easily built from recycled computer system disk drives and can be powered by a rechargeable battery or hooked up to a vehicle battery. It features straightforward guidelines that can be followed with very little training.
The researchers examined the reliability of the lab-in-a-backpack system by utilizing it to test saliva samples integrated with recognized amounts of SARS-CoV-2 RNA. They discovered the system to be effective and sensitive, capable of detecting as couple of as 4 viral RNA copies per microliter of saliva– a lower level than is really discovered in contaminated people.
The researchers hope the lab-in-a-backpack might assist alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by making it possible for an increased amount of self-testing in the house, testing in the field, and mobile testing in a wider range of cultures and settings, such as refugee camps and catastrophe zones.
Far we have actually put up with the exorbitant prices of some of these fast turn-around tests, however its time to open up the competition of ideas so we can decrease costs and make them more available. Some of the existing LAMP tests offered, and offered at airports like Heathrow, can cost around ₤ 85. Upon validation, we are positive it should be possible to establish commercial tests based on the kits for under ₤ 10.”.
For more on the $51 lab-in-a-backpack system, see Scientists Develop $51 COVID-19 Testing Lab in a Backpack.
Reference: “End-to-end system for quick and sensitive early-detection of SARS-CoV-2 for resource-poor and field-test environments using a $51 lab-in-a-backpack” by E. Emily Lin, Umar A. Razzaque, Stephen A. Burrows and Stoyan K. Smoukov, 26 January 2022, PLoS ONE.DOI: 10.1371/ journal.pone.0259886.
Financing: The authors thank the CSC for the scholarship to E Lin, the EPSRC fellowship EP/R028915/1 and European Space Agency MAP PROJECT WHISKIES.to S.K.S, and the Queen Mary University of London SEMS Undergraduate Research Fund.

In the meantime, SARS-CoV-2 testing is needed to avoid spread, by enabling such steps as contact tracing, early detection in health care workers, safe travel, and other advantages. Many regions lack the monetary and useful capability to carry out an adequate amount of reliable screening.

To enhance COVID-19 testing options, Lin and colleagues have now developed a $51 lab-in-a-backpack system. It processes 6 samples in 90 minutes utilizing a technique known as reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP), which has similar sensitivity to PCR testing. The new, standalone system is portable and can be utilized in settings that lack expensive infrastructure.

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