Laboratory-on-a-chip’ devices could dramatically reduce COVID-19 detection times
Newly developed biosensor devices linked to smartphones could help medical practitioners dramatically cut down the real-time detection rates in the battle against COVID-19 and other future viral outbreaks.
Scientists and engineers from The University of Manchester have created a novel Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) platform to aid biosensor devices to detect biological species and help control the spread of virus outbreaks. The approach could help track and trace people with infection while a vaccine breakthrough could still be many months away.
Various global strategies are in place across the world to help curb the spread of COVID-19, with a coordinated effort involving; population modelling, face mask usage and developing ventilator capacity. Modelling and simulation experts at The University of Manchester have now developed an additional tool.
Findings published in the prestigious Journal of Biosensors and Bioelectronics, demonstrate a novel numerical platform as a new design for biosensor devices. This new system simulates the performance of electronic devices in different design and operating conditions to improve contact tracing within the population.
This breakthrough would allow for the integration of biosensors to existing smartphones with the potential ability to improve the speed and reliability of the existing contact tracing system. It would also help to contain any other virus-related disasters and pandemics in the future through the same method.
Biosensors are one of the most effective ways for detection of a biological species and controlling its spread The biosensors works via targeted molecules causing chemical reactions with biological recognition element on the surface of the biosensor. Transducer transforms the biomolecule-analyte interaction into a measurable optical or electrical signal. These systems decrease the sample of reagent consumptions, shorten the time of experiments, and reduce the overall costs of applications.
D Amir Keshmiri, from The University of Manchester said: “This new competitive numerical platform simulates the performance of these specific devices in different design and operating conditions, which in turn will broaden our insight into the biological species manipulation in order to improve the efficiency of the existing designs.
“While developing an effective vaccine can take months up to years, detection of infected individuals is at the forefront of controlling the situation and a crucial tool in the ‘Contact Tracing’ strategy, currently in use in the UK and most other countries. ‘Time’ is a key parameter in containing highly pathogenic diseases and defeating a pandemic.
“These lab-on-a-chip devices are suitable for daily tests and are user-friendly, meaning no laboratory facilities are needed. These features make them a favourable real time detection system, however, designing a reliable one is still very challenging and time-consuming.”
These lab-on-a-chip devices are suitable for daily tests and are user-friendly, meaning no laboratory facilities are needed. These features make them a favourable real time detection system, however, designing a reliable one is still very challenging and time-consuming.
The researcher behind these findings is Miss Fatemeh Shahbazi, whose PhD was funded by the ‘Exceptional Women in Engineering (EWE)’ Scheme in the Department of Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Engineering (MACE). She said: “Using my passion and expertise in computational fluid dynamics to contribute to a global challenge was my dream coming true. This was only made possible thanks to EWE, giving me with a life-time opportunity to work on the exciting projects and with the help and support from my supervisors, Dr Jabbari and Dr Keshmiri.”
At The University of Manchester, our people are working together and with partners from across society to understand coronavirus (COVID-19) and its wide-ranging impacts on our lives.
Researchers, teachers, students and professional service staff are combining their knowledge to contribute to the local, national and international response to the disease.