New mask could diagnose wearer with COVID-19 within 90 minutes

A new face mask could diagnose those who wear it with COVID-19 in about 90 minutes, according to engineers at MIT and Harvard University who designed the mask.

The masks have tiny disposable sensors called High Sensitivity Specific Enzyme Unlock (SHERLOCK). The study, published in Natural biotechnology, shows that the sensors could also be incorporated into clothing, offering a new way to monitor exposure to the virus.

James Collins, Termeer professor of medical engineering and science at the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) and the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT and lead author of the study began developing wearable sensors years ago. to help diagnose Ebola and Zika viruses.

The sensors are freeze-dried, surrounded by a reservoir of water that releases when the wearer presses a button, signaling that they are ready to be tested. When the lyophilized components are hydrated, they analyze the accumulated respiratory droplets and begin to test for COVID-19.

Luis Soenksen, Venture Builder at MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Clinic for Machine Learning in Health and a former postdoctoral fellow at the Wyss Institute, and the other lead author of the study, tested hundreds of different fabrics for the mask.

Peter Nguyen, a researcher at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and one of the lead authors of the study, said: “This test is as sensitive as the reference PCR tests, which are very sensitive, but it is as fast as antigen testing. which are used for a rapid analysis of Covid-19. “

The research was funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency; the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group; the Wyss Institute; Johnson and Johnson Innovation JLABS; the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard; and the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation.

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Perry Perrie

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