Development of new chip will identify COVID-19 antibodies in one minute
Using one drop of blood, Rochester researchers are developing a chip on a disposable card that can detect COVID-19 and other viruses. This unique approach can identify exposure within a minute and provides an important new tool for the medical community.
The $1.7 million project is funded by the by the US Department of Defense Manufacturing Technology Program using CARES Act funds. It is coordinated through a contract with AIM Photonics and led by University of Rochester Medical Center researcher Benjamin Miller. There are numerous other partners. Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Syntec Optics in Rochester, the NY Creates research facility, the University of California at Santa Barbara and the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC are also contributing expertise.
Currently, the finished optical chip is no bigger than a grain of rice. In the separate sensor areas of the chip, there are proteins associated with eight different viruses. Someone who has been exposed to any of the viruses would be detected. The antibodies are actually proteins that are produced by the immune system to combat viruses. In fact, they are still in the immune system, even after a patient recovers.
To complete the research and test the device’s effectiveness, blood will be drawn from 100 COVID-19 patients, who have given permission for the test. Once the prototype is complete, the team will apply for $5.3 million in additional funding with the goal of making this technology available commercially.