Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have developed an experimental COIVD-19 test that uses gold nanoparticles to detect if coronavirus is present in saliva or a nasal swab sample.
The result is obtained in only ten minutes, through a change in the color of the test liquid. It is visible with naked eyes. The gold nanoparticles respond by turning the liquid reagent from purple to blue. But another fact is even more important: "Based on our preliminary results, we believe this promising new test may detect RNA material from the virus as early as the first day of infection," lead researcher Dipanjan Pan said in a statement. The test uses a highly specific molecule attached to the gold nanoparticles to detect a particular protein. It does not give a false negative result if the virus actually is present, nor a false positive result if the virus is not present. It could be a relatively inexpensive and user-friendly way to test people when is an urgency, without the need for a sophisticated laboratory facility.
In a press release, Dr Dipanjan Pan, the lead author of the study and professor of diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine and paediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said that the test can probably detect viral RNA on day 1 of the infection.