Alexandre Brolo, a physical chemist at the University of Victoria, is working to develop an at-home COVID-19 test. (UVic Photo Services)

University of Victoria chemist works to create at-home COVID-19 test

The test uses a sample of saliva, results are then read by an app

A physical chemist from the University of Victoria is working on creating an at-home COVID-19 test that could change the way public health officials track and control the spread of the virus.

Alexandre Brolo, in partnership with ImmunoPrecise Antibodies, is working on a test that would detect the presence of the disease in saliva and can be read using a cellphone. The news was announced by UVic on May 27.

RELATED: ‘Germ-killing robots’ to fight COVID-19 at this B.C. hospital

According to Brolo, the wait for COVID-19 test results in Canada can range anywhere from 24 hours to two weeks and requires the patient to visit a testing facility — “risking further disease spread.”

“A real-time COVID-19 test could be used in public spaces where you need to be able to rapidly screen people. The simple platform and easy-to-obtain sample could be used by non-health professionals or as a home-testing kit,” Brolo said in a statement.

The sample of saliva is placed on a thin strip coated in nanostructures made of gold. The structures interact with COVID-19 specific targets such as the spiky proteins located on the surface of the virus. If these proteins are present in the saliva of an infected patient, the strip will change colour and can be detected in real time with an app. 

Brolo previously developed and piloted technology — which he’s building upon for the COVID-19 test — that would detect the Zika virus. His team was able to verify the technology’s ability to detect proteins from both Zika and dengue fever using a person’s saliva. Now Brolo will be customizing and testing technology to use with COVID-19 antibody samples supplied by ImmunoPrecise, a Victoria-based company that specializes in custom antibody discovery and development.

RELATED: False-positive COVID-19 test results rare despite recent scares, experts say

The project is funded by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Alliance COVID-19 grant, which promotes collaboration between academic researches and industry to address pandemic-related research and technical challenges.

The projects are funded up to a year.

For more news from the Island and beyond delivered directly to your email inbox, click here.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

UVic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Parksville man, 95, gets lifetime achievement award for civil rights work

Bill Duncan worked with Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago

71-unit rental apartment building proposed in downtown Parksville

Open house will take place before second reading of bylaw amendment

Construction to begin on new $2M fire hall in Deep Bay

Long-term debt will be financed over a 20-year period

Parksville Royals hurler earns scholarship to Nebraska school

Frank came to mid-Island from Terrace to pursue baseball dreams

UPDATE: Vancouver Island skydiving community mourns loss of one of its own

James Smith, 34, of Victoria, dies in Nanoose Bay incident

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Time to protect B.C.’s unique glass sponge reefs, conservation group says

Climate change is a “serious and immediate threat” to the 9,000-year old sponges: study

Young tourist caught untying boats from Ucluelet dock

‘He was just untying the boats and watching them float away’

Indigenous leader Ed John pleads not guilty to historical sex charges

Ed John’s lawyer entered the plea by telephone on behalf of his client

Woman who talked to unconscious husband for 30 years gets solace from B.C. study

Ian Jordan suffered a head injury when he and another officer were on their way to a call in Victoria in September 1987

RCMP investigate threat against Indigenous totem poles on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast

Police describe the nature of the threat as ‘sensitive’

Saanich junior hockey team drops Braves name, First Nations logo

Club moves on after 53-years with First Nations logo

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

Most Read