COVID-19 - Coronavirus disease 2019

Fast, simple and enzyme-free detection of SARS-CoV-2 – FindCov

Submission summary

COVID-19 has reached a pandemic scale in a few months and is devastating the heath systems of many nations. Knowledge of the virus is still parcelar, but asymptomatic but infectious carriers appear to be driving the explosive growth of the disease. In absence of a vaccine, the best way to manage the epidemy is to combine massive testing, contact tracing and isolation. Yet, PCR tests have proved to be in severe shortages in many countries, which has led governments to ration testing to the most severe cases. While PCR is the gold standard and highly sensitive, it has several drawbacks that prevent its use for massive screening: time, cost, complexity, sensitivity to contaminants and inhibitors, need for refrigerated shipping of reagents...

In this proposal we propose to adapt bead-based assays (commonly used in immuno testing) to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 with a simple equipment (smartphone, optical microscope), within 30 minutes and with reagents that can be shipped by post. More specifically we propose to decorate the viral RNA with micrometric beads, forming clusters with prescribed morphologies. Those clusters are then detected optically and counted with a standard microscope, a LCD digital microscope or a smartphone coupled to a magnifying lens (available for ~10-100 euros on the web). We will strive to simplify the assay as much as possible, so as to make it easy to use to the largest number of healthcare professionals. We will work on sample processing, so that viral RNA can be prepared without the need for RNA extraction kits (which are in severe shortage).

This assay will be complementary to PCR, and used for initial but massive screening (for instance in primary care, in mobile detection van, or in general hospital). We hope that it will allow systematic testing of covid, so as to efficiently contain the pathogen,

Project coordination

Anthony Genot (Laboratory for Integrated Micro Mechatronics Systems)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


CHU Lyon Hospices Civils de Lyon
LIMMS Laboratory for Integrated Micro Mechatronics Systems

Help of the ANR 199,999 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 18 Months

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