Scientists have developed a new prototype face mask that they say can accurately diagnose Covid-19 and other illnesses after being worn for just 90 minutes.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University have teamed up to create the mask, which contains small disposable sensors developed using freeze-dried cellular machines, which target specific molecules.
The masks work by releasing a small reservoir of water when the wearer presses a button to perform the test, with the sensor analyzing droplets from the wearer’s breathing to detect if there are any Covid particles.
Using different sensors, they can also be used to detect other diseases, including influenza, Ebola and Zika, or the presence of nerve agents.
Researchers say the masks are both very precise and fast, producing results in 90 minutes.
Peter Nguyen, researcher at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, said: “This test is as sensitive as the benchmark PCR tests, which are very sensitive, but it is as fast as the antigen tests which are used. for a quick Covid -19 analysis
The masks are designed so that the sensors can be activated when the user wishes to use them, with the test results displayed internally, for privacy reasons
Scientists have also shown that it is possible for sensors to be integrated with other items, such as lab coats, to help monitor researchers’ exposure to hazardous substances or pathogens.
Professor James Collins, Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering and Science at the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) and the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT, said: “We have demonstrated that we can freeze-dry a wide range of sensors. synthetic biology to detect viral or bacterial nucleic acids, as well as toxic chemicals, including nerve toxins.
“We envision that this platform could enable next-generation portable biosensors for first responders, medical personnel and military personnel. ”
Luis Soenksen, a business creator at MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Clinic for Machine Learning in Health, said they had developed the masks that “essentially reduced the functionality of state-of-the-art molecular testing facilities into a compatible format. with portable scenarios through a variety of applications ”.