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Use Your Smartphone to Test for COVID? UC Scientists Developing An App for That

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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, and University of California, San Francisco. 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 because most infected people have mild or no symptoms, yet still carry and spread the virus.

In a new study published in the scientific journal Cell, the team from Gladstone, UC Berkeley, and UCSF has outlined the technology for a CRISPR-based test for COVID-19 that uses a smartphone camera to provide accurate results in under 30 minutes.

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