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Duke University Team Wins $119K NSF Grant to Develop Point-of-Care Coronavirus Test

NEW YORK — Researchers from Duke University have been awarded a $119,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a rapid, point-of-care test for SARS-CoV-2, the university announced on Monday.

The D4 assay, which is based on a platform originally built for detecting Ebola infections, uses a standardized microfluidic chip to detect both the SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein from nasal swabs and patient-derived antibodies against the viral spike protein 1 from blood drops, according to the grant's abstract. A readout is provided using a handheld scanner, called D4Scope, that does not require an external power source or laboratory infrastructure.

"We've shown a proof-of-concept by detecting a biomarker of the SARS-Cov-2 virus, and the next step would be to validate this with patient samples," Ashutosh Chilkoti, a Duke researcher and the grant's principal investigator, said in a statement. "Our test is designed to be truly point-of-care, and this pandemic is clearly a scenario when a portable, fast, and cost-effective diagnostic would be most useful."

With the NSF funding, Chilkoti and colleagues aim to further develop the D4 assay with the goal of testing it in patients in the next few months.