Development of Rapid and Accessible Diagnostics of COVID‑19 via Aptamer-Based Detection of SARS-COV-2 Virions
Effectively dealing with the ongoing COVID‑19 pandemic and preventing future COVID outbreaks require rapid and accessible detection of the virus in all individuals suspected of having active injection. The current flagship method for diagnosing COVID‑19 is based on detection of vial RNA. It is sensitive and specific, but it has quickly proved to be inadequate for COVID‑19 epidemics as it is slow and requires highly-specialized facilities. Here we propose fast and accessible diagnosis via detection of viral particles. The proposed diagnostics will be facilitated by DNA aptamers which can selectively bind viral particles and label them for highly sensitive detection. To implement this challenging approach, we partner with the leading COVID‑19 testing facilities at the Hospital for Sick Children and Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. This partnership has all required expertise and facilities to successfully complete the project by the end of the one-year term. We will also be assisted by SCIEX, a company in Toronto that produces analytical instrumentation used in our research and our long-term partner. Our research plan is concrete and realistic and is expected to lead to concrete clinically-tested SARS-Cov-2 detection schemes.