Researchers at the University of Utah are working on a high-tech device that could let you test for COVID-19 using a smartphone.What started as a device to help detect a completely different virus could become a big part of tracking the novel coronavirus.“We started this project about 12 months ago, and the main idea was to enable people to have their own personal sensors to detect Zika in places that they travel,” said Massood Tabib-Azar, a University of Utah professor and the lead engineer on the project.The plan is to take the Zika virus sensor and program it to identify COVID-19 instead.“Our prototype is going to be on the order of the size of a quarter, and it would be communicating with a cellphone using the Bluetooth link,” Tabib-Azar said.
If someone were to breathe, cough, sneeze or blow on the sensor, it would be able to tell if someone had COVID-19. The results would then be displayed on a cellphone within 60 seconds.It could also test for the virus on a surface by using a swab and placing it onto the sensor.Tabib-Azar said he wants to make it possible to send the results to health agencies too.
Regeneron’s COVID-19 Trial Reaches Patients In 5 Days
At AdventHealth, a multi-state care network with more than 50 hospitals, two such treatments are being deployed to treat its most seriously ill COVID patients. Dr. Steven Smith, chief scientific officer for AdventHealth, notes those two drugs are remdesivir and sarilumab. To receive the treatments, patients must be in the ICU and receiving oxygen support.Bari Kowal, VP and head of global clinical operations for Regeneron, notes it generally takes months to move from trial concept to enrollment of the first patients. The COVID-19 trial for sarilumab was completed in a matter of days, even with members of her team working remotely.
“Remdesivir was originally developed to treat the Ebola virus and sarilumab (Kevzara) is a treatment for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis,” says Smith. “Due to the urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA is allowing hospitals to deploy drugs outside of their officially approved uses.”The rapid execution of this trial also required the commitment of the FDA, which worked with Regeneron’s leadership team over a weekend to review the trial protocol.
Scientist Explain Experience of Working on J&J’s Coronavirus Vaccine
Rinke Bos is a scientist. But under the bright spotlight of COVID-19, the Johnson & Johnson immunologist has also become a media spokesperson, an online video cast member and one of the many pharma researchers who symbolize hope for the world.
Bos leads the J&J vaccine discovery team of about a dozen researchers in the small town of Leiden in her native country of the Netherlands. The team first began designing potential vaccines after the full RNA sequence for SARS-CoV-2 was released publicly in January. They researched options, performed preclinical testing and corrected designs to narrow down candidates.
The team worked days, nights and weekends in shifts to build and test 10 different vaccine possibilities. At first, they worked together in the lab, but later, after social distancing restrictions went into effect in the Netherlands, they switched to remote work with only one or at most two people allowed in the lab at the same time. That required some shifts in procedures, such as more detailed note-taking, which became critical. Missing specifics in hand-offs between team members could create delays no one wanted.