Novel Rapid Point-of-Care Diagnostic for Respiratory Viruses

Northeastern University Background
Respiratory diseases are the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Several pandemics of infectious respiratory diseases have claimed the lives of millions of people. Timely diagnosis significantly reduces hospitalization, morbidity, and mortality as observed in the recent COVID-19 pandemic. However, current diagnostic procedures are often time-consuming, expensive, labor-intensive, and invasive. Moreover, diagnosis in patients with atypical clinical representation may remain elusive. Currently, the gold standard method for detection is RT-PCR, which has a limit of detection, and it is not rapid enough. While advances in RNA fluorescence in situ hybridization (RNA FISH) have allowed for accurate and sensitive quantification of gene expression, current methods require hybridization times that limit their potential for use in rapid, point-of-care diagnostics. Therefore, a more efficient and accurate point-of-care diagnostic is needed for early diagnosis. 
Technology Overview
Northeastern researchers are developing an automated fluorescence in situ hybridization processing and detection platform that overcomes the deficiencies of current manual FISH approaches. This technique for rapid point of care diagnosis of viral diseases is aimed at achieving greater accuracy than RT-PCR. The processing part of the system accurately dispenses, incubates, and aspirates reagents onto collected patient samples to prepare them for fluorescence detection. These samples will move through the system in a serialized manner to decrease processing time. The detection part illuminates the fluorophores and processes data using optical pick-up technology in combination with further optical modifications as well as linear and spindle motor assemblies. The goal is an automated system that can achieve detection in as little as 10 minutes.
Benefits

Automated fluorescence detection 
Point-of-care diagnosis 
Fast and precise diagnosis 
Cost-effective 
Single use 

Applications

Rapid point-of-care diagnostic for COVID-19 
Rapid point-of-care diagnostic for a variety of viruses 
Detection of biological threats 
Automatization of FISH technology in biotech lab equipment 

Opportunity

Building business plan 
Applying for grant funding

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