Researchers from Havard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have further developed a KN95 mask so that it can warn the wearer of a possible corona infection.
Modified mask warns of COVID 19 infection
(Medical) masks have been an integral part of our everyday lives for over a year. They are intended to protect us and our fellow human beings from being infected with the corona virus. An end is also not yet in sight, in particular due to the appearance of the new Delta variant.
A research team made up of engineers from Havard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have now further developed a KN95 mask, which is the Chinese equivalent of the FFP2 mask. This has given the mask another task, because it is supposed to indicate a corona infection. To do this, the researchers put a plastic structure on the mask in which a small single-use sensor is located.
Diagnostic technology works with freeze-dried cellular mini machines that are paper-based. With the approach, a large number of sensors can be created with the help of synthetic biology. These will not only detect viruses, but also bacteria or toxic chemicals, including nerve agents. The mask or single-use sensor requires approx. 90 minutes to diagnose a COVID 19 infection. Activation is carried out manually by the wearer and the result is only displayed on the inside of the mask in the form of a color change.
The system was developed by the researchers in such a way that it can also be modeled on other viruses and bacteria. In addition, the size of the plastic structure including the disposable sensor makes it possible to incorporate it into other objects such as clothing.
James Collins, MIT professor of medical engineering, demonstrated seven years ago that proteins and nucleic acids can be used to create synthetic gene networks on paper. This made it possible to detect a Zika infection. Freeze-drying makes the systems very stable and can be stored for months before they can be rehydrated and used. After activation by water, the sensors react to a target sequence, be it DNA, RNA or another molecule.
According to the researchers, the modified KN95 masks should also provide much more accurate results than the PCR tests currently carried out. The team is working on accelerating the technology and reducing the waiting time for diagnosis to 15 minutes.