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DNA sensor can detect when COVID is contagious

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, 24 September 2021 (HealthDay News) – a new DNA a new study finds that the sensor can detect viruses and see if they are contagious within minutes or not.

The sensor was developed using DNA technology and does not need to be pre-sampled samples. Researchers have shown this technique with the human adenovirus (which causes colds flu) and the virus that causes COVID-19.

“Infection status is very important information that can tell us whether patients are contagious or working as a disinfectant method for the environment,” said researcher Ana Peinetti, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). has.

“We have developed these highly specific DNA molecules, called aptamers, that not only recognize viruses but can also distinguish the infection status of the virus,” Peinetti said in a news release to the university. She now leads a research group at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Researcher Yi Lu, Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at the UIUC, explained how current measurements of viral RNA may not be an accurate indication of contagion.

“With the virus that causes COVID-19, it has been shown that the level of viral RNA has minimal correlation with the infection of the virus. In the early stages when a person is infected, the viral RNA is low and difficult to detect , but the person is very contagious, ”he said in the statement.

“If a person recovers and is not contagious, the viral RNA level can be very high. Antigen tests [commonly used for COVID] follows a similar pattern, albeit even later than viral RNA. Viral RNA and antigen tests are therefore poor at informing whether a virus is contagious or not. This may lead to delayed treatment or quarantine, or premature release of those who may still be contagious, ”Lu said.

The new sensor method can deliver results within 30 minutes to two hours. Because the sample is not treated, it can be used on viruses that will not grow in the laboratory.

“We chose human adenovirus to demonstrate our sensor because it is an emerging viral pathogen that is of concern in the United States and around the world,” said researcher Benito Marinas, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the UIUC.


“The ability to detect infectious adenovirus in the presence of viruses that are non-contagious by water disinfectants, and other background substances that may interfere with wastewater and contaminated natural waters, offers an unprecedented new approach. We see potential for such technology to provides more robust protection of the environment and public health, ”said Marinas.

The detection technique can be applied to other viruses, the researchers said, by modifying the DNA to target different pathogens.

With the ability to distinguish non-infections from infectious viruses, the researchers hope the sensor can help them understand the mechanisms of infection.

The report was published in the magazine on September 22 Scientific progress.

More information

The American National Human Genome Research Institute has more about viruses.

SOURCE: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, News Release, September 22, 2021

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