What is a Biosensor?
- Biosensors are devices used to detect the presence or concentration of a biological analyte, such as a biomolecule, a biological structure or a microorganism.
- Biosensors consist of three parts: a component that recognizes the analyte and produces a signal, a signal transducer, and a reader device.
Why in News?
- Scientists have developed new protein-based biosensors that glow when mixed with components of the novel coronavirus or specific COVID-19 antibodies, a breakthrough that could enable faster and more widespread testing for the disease.
- Current coronavirus diagnosis relies mostly on a technique called RT-PCR, which amplifies genetic material from the virus so that it can be seen.
- This technique requires specialised staff and equipment, and also consumes lab supplies that are now in high demand all over the world.
- Antibody testing can reveal whether a person has had COVID-19 in the past. It is being used to track the spread of the pandemic, but it too requires complex laboratory supplies and equipment.
About the new technique
- When mixed with fluid from a nasal swab or blood sample, these protein sensors emit light within minutes.
- In order to directly detect coronavirus in patient samples without the need for genetic amplification, researchers used computers to design new biosensors.
- These protein-based devices, recognise specific molecules on the surface of the virus, bind to them, then emit light through a biochemical reaction.
- The researchers also created biosensors that glow when mixed with COVID-19 antibodies.