Imagine swabbing your nostrils, putting the swab in a device, and getting a read-out on your phone in 15 to 30 minutes that tells you if you are infected with the COVID-19 virus. This has been the vision for a team of scientists at Gladstone Institutes, University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), and University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). And now, they report a scientific breakthrough that brings them closer to making this vision a reality.
One of the major hurdles to combating the COVID-19 pandemic and fully reopening communities across the country is the availability of mass rapid testing. Knowing who is infected would provide valuable insights about the potential spread and threat of the virus for policymakers and citizens alike.
Yet, people must often wait several days for their results, or even longer when there is a backlog in processing lab tests. And, the situation is worsened by the fact that most infected people have mild or no symptoms, yet still carry and spread the virus… Continue reading.
Scientists have known for decades that a flu virus in a human body can be a lot different than viruses grown in a lab. As opposed to the uniform, spherical, textbook-style viruses in a petri dish, in humans they vary in shape and composition — particularly the abundance of certain proteins — even if they are genetically very similar.
It has been difficult however, to study the exact number and location of these proteins on any individual virus. The go-to method in cell biology involves attaching a fluorescent protein to the area of interest; the light makes the area easier to image and study.
But trying to attach fluorescent proteins to the molecules that make up a flu virus is like trying to get a third person on a tandem bike: There just isn’t room. The fluorescent proteins are about the same size as the flu proteins; introducing such a relatively large element throws the virus out of whack… Continue reading.