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Corona Hunter

an open-source detection method for SARS CoV-2, analogous to the GMO Detective and Corona Detective
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Motivation

Urge of cheap and rapid testing

The Government Medical Officers Association, in its latest report on Monday, said “tests need to be carried out on all those who develop symptoms”. “We should be able to confirm that the 42,000 people who maintained contact with the affected patients are not tested positive for the virus,” the report added. Health authorities confirmed six deaths due to the coronavirus on Monday with the number of active patients standing at 134, and the number of recoveries at 38.

The Department of Molecular Science and Biochemistry at the University of Colombo has designed a kit that could assist in reducing the cost for a PCR test. “Our product can be given for one fourth of the price (of imported kits). We are offering it for Rs 80,000,” Professor Ranil Dassanayake who led the team which invented the product told News1st. The new kit will assist in extracting the RNA molecule – which comprises normal human cells and virus cells, from a sample. The PCR test will determine whether there are virus cells in the RNA molecule.

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Problem

Effects of Corona virus

Sri Lanka has recorded 596 positive cases and seven deaths so far, since its first case was recorded on 27 January. The country has been under an island-wide curfew since 17 March. These numbers are based on a very limited testing facility, and the country has enforced social distancing as a proactive measure because Sri Lanka’s healthcare sector has a limited capacity which would struggle with a large outbreak.

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Solution

Open-source Corona Detection

SLINTEC CoronaHunter is a COVID-19 test kit that uses an openly available loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) protocol as an alternative to the costly and time-consuming RT-PCR method, which is currently being used in Sri Lanka and globally. We envision a test kit that can be used in high throughput laboratories to get a quantitative measurement: a new approach that is different from other commonly available low-cost LAMP solutions. Our unique solution is tailor-made to the specifications of Sri Lankan regulations, and also to build an innovation on top of the existing infrastructure without reinventing the wheel. We define a certain time period as a LAMP “cycle” that is allowing us to have this quantitative approach to an otherwise qualitative method.

Therefore with our innovative solution, we can identify positive and negative COVID 19 from samples extracted from nasopharyngeal, saliva, oropharyngeal, and throat swabs, and RNA is extracted from the sample using magnetic beads. Additionally, our solution can also differentiate between the samples, which are high-risk (low Ct value/high viral load) or low-risk (high Ct value/low viral load). Our careful trials with real patient samples have revealed that this method has a sensitivity threshold almost equivalent to the standard RT-qPCR.

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Maker

The Corona Hunter project, led by Prabuddha Dissanayake, Madhavi Hewadikaram, Sanjaya Bathige, Aravinth Panch, and Kalindu Perera, is developing an open-source detection method for SARS CoV-2, adapted from ‘GMO Detective’, a low-cost and open community science project for detection of transgenic elements in food and plants, for both scientific and educational purposes.

During his study, he found out that after the Tsunami disaster in 2004, the water ecosystem in Batticaloa was significantly disrupted, and the local community started seeing a large number of eels that had emerged from the backwaters, which locals presumed to be snakes, as such species were not commonly visible above water.

He saw the need for a system to monitor the ocean and backwaters around Batticaloa. Therefore he has taken the challenge to build an affordable underwater glider, with the help of the existing open-source project OSUG.

He strongly believes that he will be further contributing to the OSUG project, by making it a production-ready underwater glider with multiparameter measurements system that will play a vital role in protecting the Blue Ecosystems in Global South.

This innovation collects SDG Badges of

  • un-sdg-dreamspace
    Good Health and wellbeing

    UN SDG 03

    Ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being for all at all ages is essential to sustainable development.

  • un-sdg-dreamspace
    Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

    UN SDG 9

    Encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development

  • un-sdg-dreamspace
    Partnership

    UN SDG 17

    Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.