Two-Photon Research (TPR; Montreal, QC, Canada) has developed the CAST diagnostics platform for virus detection, which uses the company’s Aptamer Molecular Photonic Beacon (AMPB) that interfaces with smartphones. The first application of CAST is for detecting SARS-CoV-2 to help control the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the test, the AMPB binds to the S1 protein of SARS-CoV-2 if it is present in the saliva sample. On binding with the S1 protein, the AMPB responds to the smartphone’s LED flash. The light emitted by the AMPB is then detected by the smartphone’s CMOS sensors.
Aptamers are defined as short molecules complementary to the protein and other molecular strings that are detectable. By changing the aptamer, multiple viruses or virus mutations can be detected with one CAST test. The AMPB is supplied in a 4 mL vial along with a swab for the saliva collection.
The smartphone displays the result instantly, and every smartphone can store the results along with time and GPS information and communicate them if required. A smartphone app will be available for download from app stores.
“Instant, accurate, and low-cost testing that does not rely on laboratory testing is essential in containing the pandemic,” says Najeeb Khalid, the company’s CEO. “Together with vaccines, we can control the COVID-19 outbreak and return our lives and economies to normal.”
The company is currently completing in vitro testing, with in vivo testing to follow.