Scientists in the US have developed a highly sensitive test for the diagnosis of coronavirus and influenza viruses, based on a saliva sample, which, although costing much less than a molecular PCR test, has similar sensitivity and accuracy.
The test called SmaRT-LAMP, which is based on a mobile phone and gives results on the spot in 25 minutes, can be used in the future at home or at work, as an intermediate alternative to both faster tests. but they are less sensitive, as are the molecular tests which are more sensitive but also more time consuming and more expensive.
The researchers, led by Dr. Michael Mahan of the University of California, Santa Barbara, who published the study in the American medical journal JAMA Network Open, according to the British Guardian, tested the test on 50 middle-aged people. 57 years old and found that it is as effective as a PCR test, while its susceptibility to influenza infections is similar.
The test, which requires the use of a portable laboratory kit (supplied once) and a free mobile application, uses a (LAMP-Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification) procedure to amplify viral RNA in the saliva sample to detect specific genes of the virus. The app uses the camera of the mobile phone to measure the color changes in the sample, which “testify” the presence or not of the virus and the result comes out in 25 minutes.
“Almost half the world's population has a 'smart' cell phone, so we believe the new test has the potential to provide equal and easy access to accurate diagnostic medicine,” said Dr Mahan. The researchers noted that “there is an urgent need, especially in low- and middle-income countries, for low-cost, low-tech, yet highly reliable diagnostic tests for coronavirus and its variants.”
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