Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Covid-19 at Home Test

PostedJune 12, 2020

Lede: Re-opening during the pandemic would be easier to safely manage if we had a quick at-home test, like a pregnancy test, for COVID-19 infection. Engineers may be close.

Randy Atkins: Using a drop of blood from a finger prick, a new testing concept would allow you to see an instant color change if you’re currently infected with the novel coronavirus or if you’ve had a previous infection. Bioengineer Jin Montclare is leading a New York University team that’s coating paper with proteins specially engineered to grab onto telltale targets and then change color.

Jin Montclare: On a single test strip it'll have areas where it could recognize the virus or recognize particular antibodies that are mounted by an individual's immune response.

Randy Atkins: Montclare says they’re working to make sure…

Jin Montclare: …it will recognize the virus even in tiny, tiny quantities. So if it has a good, tight binding then you'll see a color.

Randy Atkins: Such a quick, inexpensive test could be especially useful in places where genetic testing equipment isn’t available. There’s still work to be done, including F-D-A approval, but Montclare hopes the test can be in use within six months. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.