Imaging Technology

Considering how rapidly the novel coronavirus is spreading, it is very easy to understand why containment of the disease has been such a big issue. Scientists from all around the world have been working on ways to help better this process and ultimately aid in thwarting this disease. Most recently, researchers from the Simon Fraser University in Canada created a state of the art imaging technology to develop coronavirus testing kits that can detect the virus much more efficiently. Let us now take a look at this a little more in detail.

The technology that these researchers developed was termed Mango and was capable of sensitively detecting RNA molecules. The system not only drastically improves the screening process for the virus but also basic discoveries related to the functioning of the cell. Effectively, the Mango device functions as a catalyst to allow fundamental research and detect pathogens like COVID19.

The system works by using a fluorescent dye that gets bound to the RNA Mango aptamer. The binding process happens in a way that is similar to magnetism as the dye molecules get specifically targeted and sucked in. Once this happens, the dye molecules get excited and start glowing making them very easily detectable when placed under an RNA microscope for studies. This shift in focus to RNA molecules from protein analysis has extensively helped the detection process as cell regulation has now been found to take place at the RNA level. 

Currently available at the Applied Biological Materials (ABM) in Richmond B.C, these RNA Mango dyes are now being used as the base to further develop an isothermal testing methodology known as Mango NABSA or nucleic acid sequence-based amplification. And this research has also received considerable support due to funding from the CIHR.

Since COVID19 is a positive-strand RNA virus, it can now be detected using the Mango NABSA kits. Moreover, the necessary enzymes and buffers developed by the SFU team have also been made available thanks to ABM’s supply who have also been actively involved in other areas and have helped in the overall development of the project. 

This technology could prove to be a huge step forward towards better virus detection. Its precision is bound to increase with further research and development and can even be used to detect other dangerous diseases like cancers using its state of the art imaging features. And currently, given how the system works by detecting changes on a cellular level, it could potentially prove to be very helpful in detecting the dreaded novel coronavirus and consequently better the containment process as well.

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