A powerful Covid test in a simple coffee capsule!

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Regardless of the nature of the Covid tests, they must first go through a specialized laboratory for analysis. In the Netherlands, a researcher developed a kit to get the result at home using two very simple objects: a coffee capsule and a pot of boiling water.

Cheap and universal

In our country, no less than 3.5 million tests are carried out every week. Nasopharyngeal or salivary, these same tests finish their course in laboratories and undergo several treatments. The laboratory technicians perform an extraction, an amplification and then a passage through a thermal cycler. We should also mention the self-tests, which you can do yourself. In contrast, DNA is not amplified at all, so reliability is lower.

Vittorio Saggiomo is a researcher in bionanotechnology at the University of Wageningen (the Netherlands). He invented a new process, described in a pre-publication on the platform ChemRxiv on March 23, 2021. According to the researcher, this is a test to do yourself in a safe way using a pot of boiling water and a Nespresso coffee pod.

Called CoroNaspresso, this innovation would be inexpensive and easy to make in several million copies. Vittorio Saggiomo also evokes the universality of the product, as well as a very interesting characteristic for the protection of the environment: zero waste.

Credit: Wageningen University

25 minutes in boiling water

This test method uses loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP). The latter uses primers capable of recognizing specific regions of the target DNA. First, a DNA polymerase moves the strands, initiating synthesis. Then two of the primers form loop structures. The goal? Facilitate subsequent rounds of amplification. According to Vittorio Saggiomo, the sample is exposed to a reagent capable of testifying – by fluorescence – whether the test in question turns out to be positive or negative.

The CoroNaspresso test is amplified similar to RT-PCR test. However, this is characterized by a constant temperature necessary for the amplification reaction, namely 65 ° C. On the other hand, it is the responsibility of controlling the temperature properly, a control being carried out using a phase change material and not an electronic thermostat (too expensive). The researcher used a paraffin called Rubitherm®, which melts precisely at 65 ° C. It is also very cheap, namely 0.13 euro per kg. Then, the interested party selected a heat-resistant container – the famous coffee capsule – in order to place the paraffin.

In the end, all you have to do is place the sample in the capsule and immerse the latter in boiling water. for 25 minutes. At the end, the person should observe the color of the tube containing a reagent, the color of which changes depending on the pH. Finally, the test turns out to be yellow (positive) or orange (negative). Tested on 6 people including 3 with the coronavirus, CoroNaspresso showed a success rate of 100%. This test, the manufacturing cost of which is only 0.20 euro could be massively adopted. However, Vittorio Saggiomo’s work has not yet been validated by his peers.

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