‘Lab on a chip’ genetic test device can identify viruses within three minutes

Dec. 4, 2023
Compact genetic testing device created for COVID-19 could be used to detect a range of pathogens, or conditions including cancer.

A virus diagnosis device that gives lab-quality results within just three minutes has been invented by engineers at the University of Bath.

The prototype LoCKAmp device uses innovative ‘lab on a chip’ technology and has been proven to provide rapid and low-cost detection of COVID-19 from nasal swabs. The research team, based at the University of Bath, say the technology could easily be adapted to detect other pathogens such as bacteria – or even conditions like cancer.

The device works by rapidly releasing and amplifying genetic material from a nasal swab sample by carrying out a chemical reaction to produce a result, which can be viewed on a smartphone app.

Unlike lateral flow assay tests, commonplace during the pandemic, the LoCKAmp employs the same ‘gold standard’ genetic-based testing techniques previously reserved for lab-based PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, thus enabling rapid testing at laboratory-scale standard.

The device and how it works is detailed in the research paper LoCKAmp: lab-on-PCB technology for <3 minute virus genetic detection, published in the journal Lab on a Chip.

University of Bath release on Newswise