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Know About Field-Effect Transistor-Based Biosensor (FETBB) Which Detects Coronavirus Within Minutes

As of today, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India is 27892 with 6185 recovered cases and 872 deaths. Early diagnosis of COVID-19 is crucial to slow down the spread of the infection.

COVID-19 spread at a very faster rate. The traditional ways such as contact tracing and mapping for identifying infected patients is time taking with certain inaccuracies. Countries worldwide are making efforts to build a diagnostic method which is easier, accurate and can test a larger number of people within a shorter time. Recently, a field-effect transistor-based biosensor is making news worldwide for giving COVID-19 results within minutes.

What Is Field-Effect Transistor-Based Biosensor?

Field-effect transistor-based biosensor (FETBB) is a biosensing device with many attractive features such as mass production capability, ultra-sensing detection and low cost. It contains many biosensing devices like silicon nanowire, graphene FET, ion-sensitive FET and compound-semiconductor FET. [1]

FETBB is considered potentially useful for on-site detection and clinical diagnosis. The device is developed by researchers named Edmond Changkyun Park, Seung Il Kim and their team members. They received funding from the National Research Council of Science and Technology (Korea) and the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (Korea).

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How Does It Work?

Graphene is a nanomaterial whose crystalline structure is arranged in a two-dimensional layer of carbon atoms. It is known for its electronic conductivity, larger space area and high carrier mobility. Biosensors made from this material is ultrasensitive. [2]

The researchers used a sheet of graphene which has high electronic conductivity. They then attached immobilised antibodies against COVID-19 spike protein to the graphene. To detect the working of the sensor, they added the cultured COVID-19 virus to the sensor and saw changes in the electrical current due to binding of the antibody and cultured virus. Then they evaluated the change with a nasopharyngeal swab from the infected COVID-19 patient and measured electrical change. It was found that the sensor could easily discriminate between the samples of normal and COVID-19 sick patients. [3]

Is It Better Than RT-PCR?

The reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction is among the most used method to amplify and detect COVID-19 RNA in the swabs of patients. It detects even a small viral load in patients. However, it is time-taking and requires a lot of parameters. According to the researchers, the test requires at least three hours to produce viral RNA and give results.

On the other hand, FETBB needs only patients swab to detect with no preparation. This makes it better than RT-PCR method as it gives results within a few minutes. Also, RNA preparation may affect diagnostic accuracy and as FETBB is based on no sample preparation, it gives an accurate diagnosis of COVID-19, according to researchers.

COVID-19 Diagnostic Methods And Tools: What You Should Know

To Conclude

This new method is fast and efficient and may help in detecting the infection in larger crowds. FETBB development may help in controlling the pandemic by early detection.

Story first published: Monday, April 27, 2020, 18:24 [IST]
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