A new face mask has been developed by experts from Harvard University and MIT against COVID-19. The wearable freeze-dried cell-free mask's function is to detect the coronavirus in a short perimeter wherever the wearer of the biological mask goes.

Biotechnology Pathogen Detector Equipped in Face Mask, Can Test User for Coronavirus

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The biology scientists that created the mask took one step forward ahead of currently available fitness wearables, including Fitbit and Apple Watch. According to the Harvard University Wyss Institute's Peter Nguyen and MIT Jameel Clinical for AI and Healthcare's Luis Soenksen, the masks they innovated uses synthetic biology that can detect pathogens or toxins compared to the commercial wearables that are only capable of reading physiological signals.

The COVID-19 sensor face mask is basically a whole testing laboratory shrunken down. According to the study published in the journal Nature Biotechnology entitled "Wearable materials with embedded synthetic biology sensors for biomolecule detection," the masks have an advanced circuit architecture that can identify bacteria or viruses. The mask is a remarkable technology that can be used against COVID-19 through the biomolecule sensors equipped to it. The team of researchers said that the wearable coronavirus detectors were already planned since the birth of the pandemic.

Alongside the rollout of the effective vaccines, Nguyen and Soenksen expect that the virus detectors will be beneficial against COVID-19. The wearable freeze-dried cell-free, also known as wFDCF, is equipped with genetic circuits that have sensory abilities comparable to the human skin and immune system. The biosensors were inspired by the diagnostics of previous virus outbreaks including Zika and Ebola.

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The wFDCF Face Mask: Quick Testing, Affordable, User-Friendly

The wFDCF face mask is easy to use, as the user just has to press a button to begin the detection and analysis of the coronavirus molecules. Among the engineering challenges that the researchers encountered was evaporation.

The wFDCF works with water in order to detect the biomolecules, but instead, these waters evaporate easily on the previous examination. With that said, the scientists utilized hydrophobic elastomeric sensor chambers to prevent large volumes of water to escape the sensors. The COVID-19 mask is also designed with multi-reaction optimization to ensure that each freeze-dried process is precise.

The COVID-19 biosensor mask is comprised of freeze-dried biological detectors that were based on CRISPR enzymes. The mask collects the user's aerosols through a pad, and after 25-30 minutes, a tiny blister pouch will be pinched. The pouch will then release water on the collection pad for analysis.

The sensor mask is a great leap to reduce medical difficulties in COVID-19 diagnosis. It can also be used anytime, anywhere, and still reflect accurate results. The use of this new testing method will increase the population of tested individuals, and this rate is essential to contribute data for biomedical scientists to study further measures against COVID-19 quickly, efficiently, and in an affordable manner.

Further studies will be conducted to improve and develop a prototype of the face mask, especially along with the spike of the new COVOD-19 variants. The scientists anticipate that the use of the wFDCF face mask will be sooner than expected. The team is currently looking for collaborators to manufacture the low-cost and convenient COVID-19 tester, and they are looking forward to the distribution as soon as instititues and the government approves the utilization of this new virus detectors, reports News Medical.

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