High sensitivity tech offers a potential COVID-19 testing solution

Many of the latest developments in the global coronavirus pandemic revolve around testing—for active infection and immunity. Diagnostic and antibody tests for COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 are flooding the market, as leaders and the public hope they might support safer strategies for re-opening. 

Ping Wang
Ping Wang, an associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine. (Image: Penn Medicine)

Ping Wang, an associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, investigates diagnostics and diagnostic technology at Penn. Her clinical work focuses on making sure diagnostic results are delivered accurately and in a timely manner for patients at the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests align with that, focusing on developing novel diagnostic tools—something particularly useful when facing a novel virus like SARS-CoV-2.

In response to the pandemic, Wang is developing a rapid antigen test to diagnose COVID-19 in the community, using highly sensitive and portable technology.

“The assay we’re developing to detect SARS-CoV-2 is called a microbubbling digital assay—a novel technology we developed that can detect a very low amount of biomarkers in human samples, using images of tiny microbubbles on a smartphone camera as a ‘cue,’” explains Wang. “When the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, we saw that this assay would be a perfect fit for detecting the COVID-19 virus antigens during acute infection phase, when or before patients were symptomatic. It takes a lot of analytical sensitivity to detect such low levels of antigens, and our technology can offer much higher analytical sensitivity than most routine technology.”

This story is by Melissa Moody. Read more at Penn Medicine News.