It’s during times like these that inspire innovation.

 

In that spirit, the “Fighting Germs” contest is here to not only reward that innovation ─ but also give to other charities for those attempting the same thing! It’s fun, it’s beneficial.

 

They say the best time to plant a tree is thirty years ago. The next best time is today.

 

The scientists are modifying a mask tool that’s been used to detect Ebola and the Zika virus. (Image credit: Pixabay)

 

It’s no secret that coronavirus test kits are in short supply, there is simply not enough to test the entire population, even those that show symptoms. That said, scientists from MIT and Harvard are developing a protective mask that will display a fluorescent color when the coronavirus is detected through normal breathing, sneezing, and coughing. The technology isn’t new, it was developed in 2016 to detect Ebola and the Zika virus, and now that same tool will be used for the current pandemic. Doctors could use the masks to triage suspected cases while keeping hospital workers and patients in nearby areas safe from infection.

 

According to the scientists, the rapid self-activating COVID-19 diagnostic face mask is outfitted with highly sensitive molecular sensors that, when coupled with synthetic biology networks, will immediately produce a visible or fluorescent color when the coronavirus is detected. The entire molecular machinery can be freeze-dried and integrated with the synthetic material on the inside of the mask. When people breathe while wearing the mask, the exhaled air expels droplets due to the humidity from the lungs, which activates the freeze-dried sensors. The reactions will then produce a positive or negative signal in 1 to 3 hours.

 

 

As the US begins to open back up slowly, the scientists envision their mask could be used to screen people that use public transportation, or at airports as wearers travel through security. With the quick reaction time of the mask, it could also be used to diagnose patients quicker than current diagnostic methods. The scientists admit they are only in the early stages of developing the mask but have already found promising results using droplets of contaminated saliva. They are also looking at the mask’s design and whether they should embed the sensors inside of the mask itself, or develop a module that could be attached to any over-the-counter mask.

 

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