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Mexico's National Polytechnic Institute Develops 15-Minute Test That Detects COVID in Asymptomatic Patients

A portable device for detection of the COVID-19 that provides a response in 15 minutes and that would avoid going to a hospital and coming into contact with seriously ill patients was designed by researchers from National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) from Mexico.

The device can be connected to the cell phone and indicate the result in real time to the doctor, via email.

The diagnostic method recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) is the molecular test known as reverse transcriptase and chain reaction of the polymerase (RT-PCR, for its acronym in English), which reveals the presence of genetic material of the virus.

But its application is limited by the cost and the requirement of specialized facilities.

In a statement the IPN reported that a team of researchers from the Department of Biotechnology and Bioengineering of the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (Cinvestav) developed the apparatus.

The device works under the technique of reverse transcription coupled to the isothermal amplification Loop-mediated (RT-LAMP), to do the ‘in situ’ detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

In such a way that “if a person has an active infection with the new coronavirus, detection by RT-LAMP generates a result in approximately 15 minutes, since it exponentially amplifies (generates multiple copies) a viral gene in a specific way,” he explained. the team led by researcher Roberto Ruiz Medrano.

In the note it was explained that unlike the conventional RT-PCR technique, where “the sample is subjected to different temperature cycles”, in which Cinvestav researchers propose, “a device is used that allows the detection mixture of the virus at 65 degrees centigrade. “

They specified that “by not requiring sophisticated equipment, RT-LAMP can be performed at the site where the patients to be diagnosed are located.”

They stressed that this technique has already been used internationally for the detection of various pathogens, both plant and animal and human.

Ideal for asymptomatic patients

According to researcher Beatriz Xoconostle Cázares, who along with Brenda Vargas Hernández and Brenda Vargas Hernández also participate in the project, the development of the RT-LAMP test started in January of this year.

The specialist said that the implementation of this type of rapid tests “would be ideal for asymptomatic patients or with mild symptoms, the same as having this diagnostic option, they would not need to go to hospitals with seriously ill patients ”.

He said that this would also allow them to recover at home and isolate themselves in order to limit the spread of the new coronavirus and recalled that since the transmission of the pathogen that causes COVID-19 can occur through infected people but do not show symptoms , “Identifying the virus carriers is a relevant aspect” to contain the advance of this infectious agent.

“By limiting infections, mutations in the genetic material of the virus could be avoided, since these changes can diversify variants of this pathogen (more aggressive or less) and make its control more complex,” said the researcher.

About the equipment for the RT-LAMP test, the expert said that it is portable and contains a resistance similar to that of an iron, responsible for maintaining a constant temperature of 65 degrees Celsius.

The aforementioned device is connected through the Android system to a cell phone, it has a special program that indicates the progress of the detection process in real time and at the end the result can be sent via email to the treating doctor.

The Quick test Developed by Cinvestav researchers, it is ready and the next step is to request its validation before the Institute of Epidemiological Diagnosis and Reference (InDRE), once this happens, hospitals and authorized laboratories will be able to apply it.

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