We all know masks are essential during COVID-19 times but not all masks are created equal. Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University have developed a face mask that can diagnose the wearer with the coronavirus in approximately 90 minutes. The technology consists of tiny, disposable sensors based on freeze-dried cellular machinery that the researchers had previously engineered for use in paper diagnostics for viruses such as Ebola and Zika.
It works very simply. As soon as the wearer is ready to perform the test, he or she simply activates the sensors. Then the results are only presented on the inside of the mask to protect the wearer’s privacy. The sensors can also be adjusted to fit in clothing such as lab coats and adapted to detect other viruses as well.
“We’ve demonstrated that we can freeze-dry a broad range of synthetic biology sensors to detect viral or bacterial nucleic acids, as well as toxic chemicals, including nerve toxins. We envision that this platform could enable next-generation wearable biosensors for first responders, health care personnel, and military personnel,” James Collins, the Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering and Science in MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) and Department of Biological Engineering and the senior author of the study said in a statement.