A simpler test for COVID-19
Edward DeMauro, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace (MAE) engineering is the principal investigator on a NIH RADx-Rad award in collaboration with Rutgers HealthAdvance™. DeMauro is working with three SOE co-PIs – MAE colleagues German Drazer and Hao Lin, and electrical and computer engineering associate professor Mehdi Javanmard – to develop a rapid COVID-19 sensor able to detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus within a person’s breath.
When the pandemic shut university labs down from March to July 2020, DeMauro says he and his colleagues were determined not to sit idly by. Instead, they looked for new areas of research to explore.
“We said, ‘What if we put all of what we’ve been working on together to develop a rapid diagnostic device that could be used to detect a COVID-19 infection simply by having someone breathe into it,’” DeMauro recalls. “We’re developing a system for capturing viral particles from the patient and depositing them in an electronic sensor.
“We wanted it to be so simple that a four-year-old could breathe into it without being scared and that wouldn’t expose a medical professional to the virus. And we wanted to have a final result that would be available within five to fifteen minutes without having to go to a lab for processing.”
The team hopes to a device that could not only detect the coronavirus, but that could also detect other diseases and pathogens by changing viral antibodies in its capacitor-like sensor.