Magnetic levitation system for culture-independent virus isolation from biological and environmental samples

Pakpour, Sepideh | $50,000

British Columbia University of British Columbia 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

Viruses are evolving all the time and RNA viruses are particularly good at it. Once in a while, when there is a lucky combination of mutations, a new strain evolves that is very different from those that our immune systems are used to. Pandemic happens when the new strain has efficient human to human transmissibility, especially due to respiratory mode of spread, leading to appreciable case fatality rates when there is absence of an effective or widely available medical countermeasure. These are all characteristics of COVID-19, first started in Wuhan, China in late December 2019, and then rapidly spread around the world, leading to its identification as a global pandemic in March 2020 by the World Health Organization. Now we all know what going viral means!

Scientists are already expecting the COVID‑19 pandemic to occur in multiple waves, with each wave sweeping across the globe in a matter of weeks and lasting as long as three months. Currently, because of technical limitations, isolation and identification of causative agent of COVID‑19 before the start of outbreak is nearly impossible. To address this technological gap, here we aim to: Develop a new culture-independent technology (based on both simulation and experimental approaches) for faster and more efficient isolation of viral particles from different environmental or biological sample types. We also aim to mathematically simulate the sensitivity and validity of the developed system, so that the system can be adapted to any other type of viruses in the future.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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