The test uses a small drop of blood from a fingertip to search for the presence of two covid-19 antibodies.
In March, Rahul Panat, a mechanical engineer and associate professor at CMU, had been working on a small device to detect the neurotransmitter, dopamine.
He predicted he would be able to use his dopamine-detecting device to search for antibodies, instead.
Panat said the device was the result of intense collaboration across subject areas.
The cost to manufacture the device is low, as it functions for around 10 uses, Panat said, making it an accessible and easy to use tool, overall.
“There is a worldwide audience here,” Panat said, pointing out the device’s potential uses for international travel and other scenarios where quick results are paramount.
The device has a provisional patent and is nearing human trials, which will take place at UPMC, Panat said.
While covid-19 is the present focus, Panat said the technology can be easily adapted to search for antibodies for other diseases — it all depends on what antigens are connected to the micropillar electrodes.
The device can be repurposed to search for antibodies to Zika Virus, Ebola or HIV, he said.
Overall, Panat hopes the device — and other inventions spurred by the pandemic — will help society at large understand and trust science, especially in an era when doubts to scientific discoveries and facts are prominently shared via social media.
“If there are clear examples like this (device), I think some of these doubts or questions that some people might have can potentially be addressed,” he said.
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