Graphene is a layer of carbon only one atom thick. Since it was first isolated in 2004, it has found applications in strengthening materials, accelerating electronics, and boosting performance in batteries, among others.
It also shows great potential for use in biosensors. These are devices used to detect small concentrations of biomarkers in biological samples, such as blood or saliva. Biomarkers are molecules that suggest the presence of disease.
In a recent review, my colleagues and I looked into the latest research to find the most exciting potential applications of graphene in point-of-care tests. This includes diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, but also detecting other viruses, bacteria and even cancerous tumours.
It’s early days. The technology still needs to go through clinical trials and processes need to be developed to manufacture these tests at scale. However, in the next five years, graphene could start to play a part in healthcare technology.
A single atom layer
Because graphene is a two-dimensional material, it has a tremendously high surface-to-volume ratio, which makes it very sensitive to changes in its environment. Think of a vast, calm lake. Any tiny pebble that hits the surface creates a ripple that quickly expands across the water.
Similarly, when other substances—even single molecules—hit graphene, they generate small, measurable electrical pulses.
Relying on this phenomenon alone to detect SARS-CoV-2 wouldn’t work. When used as a biosensing layer in electronic devices, graphene is sensitive down to a single molecule. Yet it can’t tell the difference between coronavirus and the flu—the same way the lake would confuse a pebble and a marble.
To solve this, researchers have developed chemically modified graphene, coating it with antibodies that bind specifically to SARS-CoV-2. When the virus reaches the sensor and attaches to the antibody, it triggers an electrical signal through the thin graphene layer.
SARS-CoV-2 carries all its genetic information in a strand of RNA, which is often used in detection processes like a polymerase chain reaction (PCR). A PCR device amplifies the amount of RNA in a saliva sample until it becomes detectable under a microscope.
But this process is time consuming, requires expensive equipment and very specific and expensive reagents—substances used in the labelling and amplification process, or in the preparation of the sample.
Image Credit: Shutterstock
A research review led by Oxford Brookes University has found a large proportion of COVID-19 survivors will be affected by neuropsychiatric and cognitive complications. Psychologists at Oxford Brookes University and a psychiatrist from Oxford [...]
A safe, fast and cheap testing method that uses magnetic nanoparticles to detect viruses in both clinical and wastewater samples has been developed by KAUST researchers. The centrifuge-free approach is compatible with magnetic bead-based [...]
The COVID-19 virus holds some mysteries. Scientists remain in the dark on aspects of how it fuses and enters the host cell; how it assembles itself; and how it buds off the host cell. [...]
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted considerable investigation into how the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein attaches to a human cell during the infection process, as this knowledge is useful in designing vaccines and therapeutics. Now, a [...]
Scientists have developed protein fragments—called peptides—that fit snugly into a groove on the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein that it would normally use to access a host cell. These peptides effectively trick the virus into "shaking hands" with a replica rather than with [...]
HSE University researchers have become the first in the world to discover genetic predisposition to severe COVID-19. The results of the study were published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology. T-cell immunity is one of [...]
When SARS-CoV-2 first began spreading across the globe, not every lab was equipped to study it directly. The virus behind the current pandemic is highly pathogenic and transmissible, leading the US Centers for Disease [...]
esearchers have detailed a mechanism in the distinctive corona of Covid-19 that could help scientists to rapidly find new treatments for the virus, and quickly test whether existing treatments are likely to work with [...]
Almost half of people testing positive for coronavirus have reported symptoms of depression, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Researchers from Bangladesh, the United States [...]
A team of investigators from the Republic of China has discovered that 6 drugs previously approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for other indications could be repurposed to treat or prevent [...]
Graphene is a layer of carbon only one atom thick. Since it was first isolated in 2004, it has found applications in strengthening materials, accelerating electronics, and boosting performance in batteries, among others. It [...]
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has yielded an unexpected advancement in the pharmaceutical industry with the approval of the first mRNA vaccines, which GlobalData expects will soon impact other indications. This historical landmark could have [...]
A single dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine is “highly protective” after three weeks, according to a study. Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) said the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech was still effective [...]
Summary: Mice exposed to COVID-19 through the nasal passage, researchers noted a rapid and escalated attack on the brain by the virus that triggered a more severe outcome of the infection, even after the lungs [...]