Blog Tag: coronavirus

FDA Publishes New Monkeypox and Medical Devices Web Page

The FDA has published new web pages about Monkeypox and medical devices. The new web page, titled Monkeypox and Medical Devices, includes information on diagnostic testing, Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs), and information for test developers. With more than 22,000 confirmed Monkeypox cases in the U.S., the new Monkeypox Medical Devices web comes as FDA takes significant actions to increase Monkeypox testing capacity nationwide following the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ August 9th announcement of public health emergency.

The FDA’s guidance issued for test developers under Policy for Monkeypox Tests to Address the Public Health Emergency describes, among other things, review priorities of Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) requests for monkeypox diagnostic tests. And, on the same day as the FDA guidance was issued, the FDA also issued the first EUA to a commercially available monkeypox test in the United States to Quest Diagnostics for its Quest Diagnostics Monkeypox Virus Qualitative Real-Time PCR device. “With this FDA emergency authorization, Quest is positioned to complement the response of public health laboratories and help fight the spread of the virus,” said Jay G. Wohlgemuth, M.D., Senior Vice President, R&D, Medical and Chief Medical Officer, Quest Diagnostic.

Quest Diagnostics is not the only company that has been working on monkeypox diagnostic test kits. Earlier in June, Becton Dickinson announced partnership with CerTest Biotec to collaborate on molecular diagnostic test for monkeypox. Several other healthcare and pharmaceuticals companies have also been linked with this effort. This comes at a time when many of these companies are preparing for a drop in revenue from COVID-19 testing as the threat of COVID-19 reduces.

Researchers Develop Face Mask for Detection of SARS-CoV-2

According to an article published in Nature Biotechnology, Harvard and MIT researchers invented a face mask for detecting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, via a user’s breath.  Instead of relying on a lab, the personal device uses sensors that use wearable freeze-dried cell-free (wFDCF) technology.  This technology contains the same molecules that cells use to recognize and manipulate nucleic acids and proteins.  According to MedGadget, unlike previous iterations of this technology which store living cells in “tiny aquariums”, wFDCF technology prevents any issues with leakage due to breakage.

To use the mask, a user presses a button on the mask to release water onto reactive wFDCF sensors.  MedGadget reports that results are given within 90 minutes and can be displayed on the inside of the mask for privacy purposes.  According to the scientific article, the wFDCF technology first cleaves viral particle samples in order to release the viral RNA.  Next, target genes located in the viral RNA are amplified via reverse transcription–recombinase polymerase amplification, in order to amplify the sequence that encodes for the spike protein.  A lateral flow assay strip is then used to display visual results similar to a pregnancy test.

“We have essentially shrunk an entire diagnostic laboratory down into a small, synthetic biology-based sensor that works with any face mask, and combines the high accuracy of PCR tests with the speed and low cost of antigen tests,” said researcher Peter Nguyen.  “In addition to face masks, our programmable biosensors can be integrated into other garments [e.g., lab coats] to provide on-the-go detection of dangerous substances including viruses, bacteria, toxins, and chemical agents.”

MIT News reports that the device can also swap in sensors for other pathogens, including influenza, Ebola, and Zika, or sensors they have developed to detect organophosphate nerve agents.

Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News reports that the research team is “actively searching for manufacturing partners who are interested in helping to enable the mass production of the face mask diagnostic for use during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as for detecting other biological and environmental hazards.”  The article reports that the authors have already submitted provisional patent applications for the technology.

The original article was published in Nature Biotechnology on June 28, 2021, and is available here.