Scientists develop a new method to test for virus and antibodies using holographic images: Study

Mumbai | Updated on October 14, 2020

Scientists at New York University are testing a new method to detect virus and antibodies using holographic images. Team of scientists at the university have developed a test based holographic video microscopy to detect viruses and antibodies.

The test uses laser beams to record holograms of their test beads.

As an official release explains, the surfaces of the test beads are activated through biochemical binding sites that attract either antibodies or virus particles, depending on the intended test.

These antibodies or viruses that bind with the beads cause the beads to grow by a few billionths of a meter. The researchers then detect these antibodies or viruses by observing changes in the beads' holograms.

"We can analyse a dozen beads per second," explained Grier David Grier, a professor of physics at NYU and one of the researchers on the project, "which means that we can cut the time for a reliable thousand-bead diagnostic test to 20 minutes. And we can measure those changes rapidly, reliably, and inexpensively."

“The holographic video microscopy is performed by an instrument, xSight, created by Spheryx, a New York-based company Grier co-founded,” as per the release.

"This instrument can count virus particles dispersed in patients' saliva and also detect and differentiate antibodies dissolved in their blood," added Grier. "This flexibility is achieved by changing the composition of the test beads to model what we are testing.

"Each type of bead tests for the presence of a particular target, but can also test for several targets simultaneously. Our holographic analysis distinguishes the different test beads by their size and by their refractive index--an easily controlled optical property."

If fully realised, this breakthrough method can help better medical diagnoses and, specifically, those related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Our approach is based on physical principles that have not previously been used for diagnostic testing," Grier said, "We can detect antibodies and viruses by literally watching them stick to specially prepared test beads."

If fully realized, this proposed test could be done in under 30 minutes. The scientists further said that the method can be used in developing libraries of test beads that may be combined into test kits for mixing with patient samples.

“This will support doctors in distinguishing among possible diagnoses, speeding patients' treatment, reducing the risk of misdiagnosis, and cutting the cost of healthcare,” they said.

The research has been published in the journal Soft Matter.

Published on October 14, 2020

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