Scientists at the University of Helsinki have developed a new antigen-based test for COVID-19.
The test is based on a phenomenon called ‘time-resolved Förster resonance energy transfer (TR-FRET). TR-FRET makes it possible to measure viral particles or the body’s own proteins by using ‘mix and read’-type tests on complex biological samples, such as serum or even whole blood. The new technique is capable of giving results in roughly 10 minutes.
“We demonstrated in our study that a technique based on the TR-FRET phenomenon can be used to diagnose SARS-CoV-2 infections in clinical specimens,” says Jussi Hepojoki, docent of virology and Academy of Finland research fellow at the University of Helsinki.
Accurate results and better safety for testers
In a recently completed study, the rapid test was able to diagnose a viral infection almost as accurately as PCR tests. Also, one of the major benefits of the new rapid test is its safety for testers. The virus becomes inactivated soon after it has been mixed in the test solution.
“The theoretical capacity of the test is very high. According to our calculations, it would be possible to manually analyse as many as 500 samples per hour, with one person doing the testing and using a single testing device. Also, the cost of test reagents is fairly low,” Hepojoki says.
The new test format can also be used to rapidly check for other respiratory illnesses.