Covid-19-Aptamer development as new diagnostic platform to increase drastically the number of testing by capita

Siaj, Mohamed | $50,000

Quebec Québec à Montréal 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

The development of fast and reliable tests for the novel coronavirus SARS-Cov-2 (COVID-19) is urgently needed to control the spread of the infection worldwide. To this end, we are unifying the efforts of research teams at UQAM University (Siaj Lab, Canada Research Chair in 2D materials for sensing applications) and Azure Biosystems (industrial partner, building state-of-the-art technologies for life science) to develop novel highly specific aptamers as recognition receptors for the detection of the emerging COVID‑19 virus. The specific aptamer will be integrated and used to develop a large scale testing setup by combining a Flow cytometer and a high capacity Fluorescence Scanner (Azure Biosystems partner). Hence, the aptasensor assay for detecting the COVID‑19 concentrations will be fast and straightforward and will require lower sample consumption than the traditional assay. By adapting Azure Biosystems technology, we can do 36 x (96 Well plates) measurement in 2 minutes. Thereby we will be providing a robust potential application for automated and high-throughput COVID‑19 analysis in Human Nasopharyngeal Swab Specimens. The resulting COVID‑19 sensors will be implemented on a highly throughput portable colorimetric reading platform for rapid detection mainly in schools, doctor office, hospitals, borders and airports.

The testing process consists of both virus detection and identification by combining aptasonsors and optical imagers. Such findings will position Canada as a critical player in the control of this pandemic. The Siaj Lab and the industrial partner will benefit directly by obtaining the know-how and greatly expand their COVID-19’s diagnostic knowledge for future applications. Compared to current technologies, the new diagnostic platform will be very specific to COVID‑19 and will increase the number of testing/Capita drastically. This cost-efficient product will save lots of effort by performing the test in a timely fashion with a minimum risk of spreading viral either by direct contacts between patients or from the sample transportation.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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