PERSONALIZED COVID‑19 DIAGNOSTICS WITH IMMUNOPLASMONIC MICROSCOPY
At this time, healthcare system is facing heavy challenges requiring new and urgent tools to handle and relief severe impacts of COVID‑19 outbreak. Personalized access to affordable, high-quality diagnostic tools for the detection of infectious diseases, including SARS-CoV-2, in resource-limited settings and outside the hospital environment, is imperative. In this project, we propose an alternative and promising solution for rapid clinical and personalized COVID‑19 diagnosis. High efficiency and sensitivity of the proposed device is ensured by the use of an elaborated Imaging Localized Surface Plasmon Resonance (ILSPR) biosensing technology. The key innovation here is the dual utilization of specifically functionalized proprietary own immunoplasmonic nanoparticles (NPs). Due to their unique optical and chemical properties, plasmonic NPs, which are precisely functionalized by specific biomolecules can perform as (I) selective biomarkers of target viruses (i.e., the detection of expressed spike proteins), and as (II) optically active tags easily detectable and quantifiable under our simplified optical imaging system (i.e., dark-field side-illumination microscopy developed in our laboratory). Our well-organized research team, including, chemists, biologists, engineers, and clinical biochemist from the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital with a collaboration of the innovation company (Allied Scientific Medical) joint their efforts to develop a professional cost-effective, plasmonic biosensing system to diagnose patients outside of centralized facilities. Taking advantage of the widespread distribution of personal electronic devices (i.e., smartphones and tablets) equipped with an effective optical sensor and communication capability, the proposed ILSPR plasmonic biosensor can also be considered as the hand-held portable personalized diagnostic device capable to obtain accurate results in less than 10 minutes and dispatches it to specialists for a precise analysis or confirmation through a telemedicine network.