A team of U.S. Army researchers has joined a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program that seeks to develop a bio-aerosol monitor that can detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that Covid- 19 causes.
The team includes researchers from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), Army Research Laboratory (ARL), Georgia Tech Research Institute, Cardea Bio and the University of Georgia.
According to DARPA, the program aims to develop a prototype sensor that can detect SARS-CoV-2 in the air and enable the implementation of practical concepts of operation before the virus causes infection in an indoor environment.
Physicist and team leader Dr Matthew Coppock said: “Monitoring of pathogens in the environment remains a challenging area of study.
“ARL has a unique ability to design and synthesize selective biosensor recognition elements using short synthetic peptides called Protein Catalyzed Capture Agents, which mimic the attachment mechanism of antibodies.”
He added that the laboratory will supply PCC receptors for SARS-CoV-2 that have been produced in Covid-19 response work for the past year, for integration into the sensor hardware.
Once developed, the sensor can help create safer working conditions at work, at school and before traveling.
Coppock said: “ARL’s biodetection technology is a crucial enabler for sustained biosensing in operational environments.
“The unmatched thermal and biological stability of the receptors will allow a significantly longer shelf life of the sensor and the elimination of sending / storing cold chains, a need for performance in lower working conditions.”
It is noteworthy that the US is one of the least affected countries by the pandemic. As of March 2, it has registered more than 28 million cases and about 514,000 deaths.