BOSTON: Novel Face Mask Developed By MIT, Harvard Can Detect COVID-19 Infection

BOSTON: Novel Face Mask Developed By MIT, Harvard Can Detect COVID-19 Infection

BOSTON: Researchers at MIT and Harvard
University have designed a new face mask that can diagnose if the wearer is
infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, within 90 minutes.

The mask
design, described in the journal Nature Biotechnology, has embedded tiny,
disposable sensors that can be fitted into other face masks, and could also be
adapted to detect other viruses.

researchers showed that the sensors could be incorporated into not only face
masks but also clothing such as lab coats, potentially offering a new way to
monitor health care workers’ exposure to a variety of pathogens or other

have demonstrated that we can freeze-dry a broad range of synthetic biology
sensors to detect viral or bacterial nucleic acids, as well as toxic chemicals,
including nerve toxins,” said James Collins, a professor at Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US.

envision that this platform could enable next-generation wearable biosensors
for first responders, health care personnel, and military personnel,”
Collins, the senior author of the study, said.

The face
mask sensors are designed so that they can be activated by the wearer when they
are ready to perform the test, and the results are only displayed on the inside
of the mask, for the privacy of the user.

As the
researchers were finishing up their work on the wearable sensors early in 2020,
COVID-19 began spreading around the globe, so they quickly decided to try using
their technology to create a diagnostic for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

produce their diagnostic face mask, the researchers embedded freeze-dried
sensors into a paper mask.

freeze-dried components are surrounded by silicone elastomer, the researchers

sensors are placed on the inside of the mask, so they can detect viral
particles in the breath of the person wearing the mask.

The mask
also includes a small reservoir of water that is released at the push of a
button when the wearer is ready to perform the test.

This hydrates
the freeze-dried components of the sensor, which analyses accumulated breath
droplets on the inside of the mask and produces a result within 90 minutes.

test is as sensitive as the gold standard, highly sensitive PCR tests, but it
is as fast as the antigen tests that are used for quick analysis of
Covid-19,” said Peter Nguyen, a research scientist at Harvard University
in the US.

prototypes have sensors on the inside of the mask to detect a user’s status, as
well as sensors placed on the outside of garments, to detect exposure from the

researchers can also swap in sensors for other pathogens, including influenza,
Ebola, and Zika, or sensors they have developed to detect organophosphate nerve

these demonstrations we have essentially shrunk down the functionality of
state-of-the-art molecular testing facilities into a format compatible with
wearable scenarios across a variety of applications,” said MIT’s Luis
Soenksen, a lead author of the research paper.

The researchers
have filed for a patent on the technology and they are now hoping to work with
a company to further develop the sensors.

The face
mask is most likely the first application that could be made available, Collins

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