Development of lab on a chip for rapid and accurate point of care detection of COVID-19
Until a vaccine is developed, the ability to reduce the transmission of COVID‑19 is directly dependent on the capacity to test and isolating the infected. Currently, COVID‑19 testing is performed in a sophisticated laboratory setup that requires time and sample routing to designated labs. Accurate, rapid, onsite and point of care (POC) detection has paramount importance not only in Canada but also worldwide for early intervention and infection control. Development of such a device will be highly impactful for our fight against COVID-19. Most of the COVID‑19 test are based on quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) of the virus RNA. PCR takes hours to reach a result and requires laboratory settings. Portable isothermal nucleic acid amplification and loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) systems are fast but not suitable for wide usage due to the higher cost. Alternately, antibody based POCs offer cost-effective but it can only detect whether an individual has been previously infected or not. These drawbacks in the current technologies are hindering the fight a contagious virus such as COVID-19, tests must be quick (minutes not hours), cost effective, portable and be highly accurate to identify infected persons and control transmission. In partnership with APAG Elektronik Corp, a national leader in the manufacturing of electronics and lighting components, we will design and produce a semiconductor-based lab-on-a-chip detection that is based on electrical sensing and detection of viral loads. This non-PCR technique will detect the virus from the electrical signal generated from the binding of COVID‑19 virus S protein with human angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE2) protein. The device will be rapidly manufacturable via a combination of cost-effective 3D printing, screen printing and integrated electrical readout. This NSERC Alliance grant will be a first-time collaboration between the research team from the University of Windsor and APAG Elektronik Corp to develop a new method for COVID‑19 point of care testing by combining the sensor development skills of the applicants and the electronic manufacturing and distribution skills of the industry partner.