To detect a virus or other infectious agents, medical and clinical laboratories usually employ the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This method, invented 1983, is widely used in biomedical research, to make copies of macromolecules like DNA or RNA from a very small sample, amplifying it to a large enough amount to study in detail.
The problem is: this technique takes time.
This is why NanoLund scientists within the research environment “Genes&Wires” now reorient their focus towards a new method for detecting the RNA in the coronavirus – a method that doesn’t involve PCR.
“The goal is to be able to read off the RNA directly, instead of having to wait for several hours which is the case when you involve the polymerase chain reaction”, says Heiner Linke, professor at solid state physics and director of NanoLund.
As Lund University have earlier reported, Jakob Löndahl, associate professor in aerosol technology at Lund University and faculty member of NanoLund, is working to analyse air samples from patient rooms at Lund University hospital trying to detect the virus.
“Naturally, there is a focus on the coronavirus now since we are in acute need of more knowledge on the airborne spread of infection”, says Jakob Löndahl.
“If the coronavirus can be found in the air, when does the infection spread from patient to air? If so, how much of the virus do we breathe in? Is the amount sufficient for someone to become ill because of it? Can patients on a respirator spread the virus to the air? What kind of mask is required? And how can the air be cleaned?”
These are just some of many research projects in the field of Corona. Scientists are forming a task force to finding solutions and answering questions. Several research groups are working on proposals for funding, while Department of Chemistry has set up a small chemical factory for producing alcohol-based solution for disinfection.