A saliva-based smartphone platform can provide COVID-19 testing results within 15 minutes without the resource-intensive laboratory tests the current gold standard requires. This news comes from a study in The Americna Association for the Advancement of Science.

Most COVID-19 tests currently require swabbing the upper part of the throat behind the nose. A future version of the chip used in this technique could contain pre-loaded reagents and sample controls, and a custom smartphone app could enable secure, wireless test data reporting. The approach was tested in 12 people infected with COVIid-19 and 6 healthy controls.

Salt collected from twelve patients with COVID-19 and six healthy controls was analyzed in this design and it was found that the method has been effective among patients with and without virus. The scientists have compared swabs from non-human primates before and after infection in the nose and saliva.

CAT S42 rugged outdoor work smartphone showing waterproof USB port with cover
The authors have designed a prototype test chip that utilizes the CRISPR/Cas12a enzyme to enhance the signal of an amplified viral load. Photo by Jonathan Kemper / Unsplash

Higher levels of SARS-CoV-2 RNA were found in the saliva swaps and indicate that after infection saliva can provide an important diagnostic medium. The future chip version used in this technology may include pre-loaded sample-controlled reagents and a custom-designed smartphone-based application to support the protection of the data reports from wireless tests.

The portable saliva-based smartphone platform provides results within just 15 minutes with the help of an ultra-sensitive chip. 12 individuals with COVID-19 infections and 6 safe controls were examined in the study.

"We believe this smartphone platform, a similar future application, offers the potential to rapidly expand COVID-19 screening capacity" said the study's authors, "and potentially simplify the verification of contact tracing, to improve local containment and inform regional disease control efforts."

The ideal location of traditional COVID 19 testing is behind the Nose and requires running tests by medical professionals. However, recent studies have shown that SARS-CoV-2 can also be present in early infection in the nasopharynx and saliva, indicating that COVID-19 saliva tests could make testing comparatively accurate, but easier and safer.

The authors have designed a prototype test chip that utilizes the CRISPR/Cas12a enzyme to enhance the signal of an amplified Viral RNA target in a sample of saliva to establish a widely available platform for research. They have incorporated the chip in a fluorescence smartphone-based reader that collects and analyzes images to determine if the virus crosses a threshold.