Super-absorbent nanofibre swabs can improve SARS-CoV-2 test sensitivity

Rapid and sensitive diagnosis of COVID-19 is essential for early treatment, contact tracing, and reducing the spread of the virus. However, some people infected with SARS-CoV-2 receive false negative test results, which could put their health and the health of others at risk. Now, ACS researchers write ‘ Nano messages They have developed super-absorbent nanofibre swabs that can reduce the number of false negative tests by improving sample collection and test sensitivity.

Currently, the most sensitive test for COVID-19 involves using a long swab to collect a sample from deep in a patient’s nose, then using a method called reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to detect SARS-CoV-2 RNA. But if the viral load is low, which can happen early during an infection, the swab may not pick up enough virus to be detected. Jingwei Xie and colleagues wanted to develop a nanofibre smear that can absorb and then release more viruses and other biological samples, improving the sensitivity of diagnostic tests.

The researchers used an electro-spinning technique to make 1-cm-long cylinders of layers of aligned nanofibers, which they coated in a thin layer of gelatin and attached to plastic swab sticks. In lab tests, the porous nanofibre cylinders absorbed and released more proteins, cells, bacteria, DNA, and viruses from liquids and surfaces than the flush cotton or wipes commonly used to test for COVID-19. The team performed dilutions of SARS-CoV-2, took liquid samples and tested the viral RNA with RT-PCR. Compared to the other two types of swabs, the nanofibre swabs reduced the false negative rate and detected SARS-CoV-2 at a concentration 10 times lower. In addition to allowing more accurate and sensitive testing for COVID-19, nanofibre swabs have far-reaching potential in diagnosing other diseases, testing foodborne illnesses, and helping forensic teams identify crime suspects from small biological samples, the researchers say.


The authors acknowledge funding from the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, and the University of Nebraska College of Medicine, UNMC, for COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants.

A summary of the paper will be available on January 27 at 8 AM ET here: http://pubs.acs.Deer /Sound /stomach muscles /10.1021 /acs.Nanolite.0c04956

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