Scientists use coffee to test for COVID-19

(ORDO NEWS) — A team of researchers led by Vittorio Sajomo of Wageningen University and a research center in the Netherlands claims to have found a method to create a highly sensitive coronavirus test from coffee machine capsules.

Currently, most coronavirus testing is done using one of two methods: the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and the lateral flow test (LFT). PCR tests convert the genetic material into DNA and then amplify it for easier detection.

This method is very accurate, but the conversion and amplification procedures take a long time, so it may take several days to receive the results of the PCR test. FT tests use antibody strips that bind to the virus and become visible in the presence of the virus. LFT is fast and affordable, but prone to false results.

Sajiomo’s team says the new method combines the sensitivity of PCR tests with fast feedback and the availability of LPT. His new product, which he called “CoronaEspresso”, uses a technique known as Loop Isothermal Amplification (Lamp for short).

As with PCR tests, the lamp transforms and amplifies genetic material for more accurate readings, yet it is easy to use and can be done at home with a Corona Espresso and a pot of boiling water.

This is not the first time someone has thought of using coffee to test for coronavirus. Of course, there is a rather informal “smell test” that involves sniffing a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Because coronavirus infection is associated with loss of taste and smell, if you don’t smell strong coffee, you may have coronavirus.

E25Bio makes an antigen test for lateral flow analysis of “instant coffee” and a similar project is underway by 3M and MIT. These products should provide fast, accurate enough results for basic home and community testing, but they are far less accurate than PCR tests, which can provide results in days and can be extremely expensive.

The results of Sajiomo’s study showed that his method correctly identified three cases of COVID-19. According to the article, CoronaEspresso devices could make a huge difference in testing and containment of coronaviruses. They can be produced for around €0.20, are mostly recyclable, and can be mass-produced on existing equipment.

It is important to note that this work is currently available as a preprint on the ChemRxiv website and therefore has not yet been peer-reviewed. We hope that Sajiomo and his team will be able to continue this research with more comprehensive tests.

Perhaps the CoronaEspresso device will be modified to detect other diseases. Given their affordability and convenience, we may one day be able to test for coronavirus and other diseases right in our own kitchen.


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