In view of the critical situation caused by the onset of the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus causing COVID-19, health services have been overwhelmed with the need to detect new cases and treat existing ones. Quick detection of this new pathogen is essential to isolate and treat new patients, as well as those who are asymptomatic, in order to curb the exponential increase of infection
Different detection methods are currently being used such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and immunoassay kits. However, these technologies are not perfect and each one presents advantages and disadvantages in terms of response time and sensitivity. One feature these kits have in common is that none is being produced by a Spanish company.
At AIMPLAS work is being done to develop a quick, cost-effective and efficient diagnostic technique based on the modification of gold nanoparticles to detect antibodies of SARS-CoV-2 or its antigen.
This technique, based on the technology centre’s previous developments used to diagnose prostate cancer, is industrially scalable and applicable to health care for quick, early diagnosis of the infection in humans using urine, blood or respiratory fluids.
Validation tests are expected to start this month on real samples in collaboration with two hospital research units in the Valencian Community: the Health Research Institute Hospital La Fe (IIS La Fe) and the Research Foundation of the General Hospital of Valencia. When this phase is completed, the development will be ready for marketing.
The new technique is expected to contribute to quick, effective diagnosis of infection at a lower cost, a very important step in the current approach of flattening the curve of infection, which involves performing millions of tests to identify and isolate infected and asymptomatic patients and thus prevent an upturn in infections.