While the world continues to struggle to vaccinate a few million people, a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have developed the long-awaited biosensors that can be easily integrated into fabrics and detect pathogens before they enter the body.
These biosensors are affixed to KN95 and are used to test the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus while the wearer is breathing. These wearable electronic devices can detect and measure the wearer's physiological changes, which are tracked in both symptomatic and pre-symptomatic stages. However, the researchers need the presence of living bacteria in order to run the synthetic circuits.
These researchers were certain that incorporating synthetic biology into wearables will considerably expand the possibilities for non-invasive monitoring of physiological status, illness rate, heart rate, pathogen and toxins exposure.
- This technology was applied to diagnostics by integrating it into a tool to address and detect the situation of the Zika virus.
- They created biosensors that detected pathogen-derived RNA molecules, paired them with a fluorescent indicator protein, and then embedded the genetic circuit in paper to develop a low-cost, accurate, and portable diagnosis.
- This accurate reading is measured in 90 minutes.
- The level of accuracy is identical to the standard PCR COVID test.
- These biosensors could detect toxins, bacteria, or any other chemical agents.
The molecular machinery that cells utilise to read and write genetic material was extracted and freeze-dried to create this sensor. When we press the mask's button, a small quantity of water is released into the sensor, reactivating the freeze-dried component and allowing it to emit signals depending on the type of disease, virus, or toxins present in the air. Following detection, the wearer receives a signal that allows them to track their exposure and self-monitor to a number of substances.
The goal was to make a difference on a worldwide scale. “And we came up with the unique idea of embedding these biosensors into the face masks to detect SARS-CoV-2,” says Lues Soensken, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Wyss Institute. Starting in May 2020, the entire experiment was carried out under stringent quarantine guidelines.
These life-saving biosensors are intended to be employed in lab coats for scientists (who may come into touch with dangerous elements, particles, or diseases), front-line medical staff uniforms, and military uniforms.
Portable testing at home
At present, the researchers are making every possible move to test blood, urine samples, stool and saliva. These tests are conducted either in labs or in a clinical environment. As a result, if completed, these biosensors might possibly be used as a portable testing instrument at home.
From lab to store
There is currently no indication of when these life-saving biosensors will be accessible on the market. “We are searching for partners that would be able to help aid in mass production,” Nina Donghia, a staff scientist, stated.