Developing Portable Magnetic Bio-assay Platforms for the Detection of SARS-COV-2

illustration of magnet made of triangles

There is currently no medication to treat COVID-19. However, proper diagnosis is essential for efficient implementation of control measures to slow down the spread of COVID-19. Current diagnostic tests for COVID-19 are based on real time RT-PCR (rRT-PCR) assays. Although this test is sensitive, they require expensive equipment, trained technicians to perform the test and turnaround time of at least 48 hours. In addition, there are signs that demand for PCR reagents may exceed supply during the current emergency.

A simple, rapid, and sensitive diagnostic test for detection of SARS-CoV-2 that can be performed in a point-of-care setting would greatly benefit implementation of appropriate control and prevention strategies.
Led by Jian-Ping Wang, PhD, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Maxim Cheeran, MVSc, PhD, associate professor of veterinary population medicine, this study will use two portable magnetic biosensing kits based on giant magnetoresistance (GMR) and magnetic particle spectroscopy (MPS) for the detection of the Spike protein (S) and two different epitopes of nucleocapsid (N) protein of SARS-CoV-2.

Expected output of this project is a new diagnostic test based on GMR and MPS platforms for simultaneous detection of key SARS-COV-2 antigens, fully validated using experimental, and field samples, and ready for on-site testing and subsequent implementation for routine diagnosis for households.

This project is supported by the UMN Campus Public Health Officer's CO:VID (Collaborative Outcomes: Visionary Innovation & Discovery) grants program, which support University of Minnesota faculty to catalyze and energize small-scale research projects designed to address and mitigate the COVID-19 virus and its associated risks.