Brazilian researchers patent two new Covid-19 tests

researchers patent tests
Photo: Pavlo Plakhotia/Shutterstock

Researchers at the Federal University of São Carlos have patented two new Covid-19 testing technologies. Both are highly sensitive and, if produced on a large scale by partner companies, they would enable the mass testing of Brazil’s population — one of the major bottlenecks in the country’s pandemic response.

One of the technologies involves an electrochemical sensor allowing for the quantitative analysis of spike proteins in the patient’s saliva, dispensing the need for nasal swabs. “This is a fast and portable test model. It is highly sensitive and is similar to devices that measure glucose levels of diabetics. An electrochemical sensor captures the spike protein and the result can be accessed in a matter of minutes, via a smartphone app,” researcher Ronaldo Censi Faria told Agência Fapesp.

The other test developed by the team detects the RNA of the virus in saliva with a precision similar to that of RT-PCR tests, considered to be the gold standard for diagnosing Covid-19. However, it is a faster and more cost-effective method, as it uses fewer reagents.

Before filing the patents, the two tests were used on saliva samples from patients treated at hospitals in São Carlos and São Paulo, both reaching a sensitivity level greater than 90 percent.