The United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is developing a biosensor that would allow, when injected into people's skin, to detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes covid-19. This was confirmed this week by the researcher specializing in infectious diseases and retired Army Colonel Matt Hepburn, who currently works at the Pentagon.
As explained by the specialist in an interview with the program 60 minutes From the CBS signal, the device “goes under the skin” and can immediately detect if there is some kind of chemical reaction going on inside the body.
In that case, it emits a signal that "means you are going to have symptoms tomorrow." "It's like a 'check engine' light," Hepburn exemplified. From that signal, continued the medical doctor from Duke University, the person must undergo a blood draw to determine the diagnosis, says the report on Page 12.
“We can have that information in three to five minutes. By truncating that time, when diagnosing and treating, what is done is to stop the infection in its tracks, ”Hepburn celebrated.
How does it work?
The sensor, the researcher said, has two parts. One is a 3-millimeter cord of hydrogel, a material whose network of polymer chains is used in some contact lenses and other implants. Inserted under the skin with a syringe, the thread includes a specially designed molecule that sends a fluorescent signal out of the body when it begins to fight an infection.
The other part is an electronic component that sends light through the skin: it detects the fluorescent signal and generates another signal that the user can send to a doctor, website, etc. It allows, in this way, to perceive the body's response to a disease before the presence of symptoms.
Given the suspicions of tracking the movement of people that this type of technology could generate as a development of a US government agency, the scientists rejected this possibility and affirmed that the only purpose is to analyze the blood and detect possible infections.
Hepburne said he is also exploring different ways to address the threats of a pandemic. He is currently leading a work for the Department of Defense called "Enabling Technologies," which develops new vaccines and treatments for future, rapidly spreading conditions.
In addition to the injectable sensor, the scientist revealed, the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has developed a filter to remove the virus from the blood through a dialysis machine. As he specified, the device has already been approved by the FDA and has been used in 300 patients.
The Pentagon also has hundreds of tissue samples from soldiers and sailors infected with pathogens around the world, including the 1918 Spanish flu that killed millions of people.
Another Pentagon researcher, Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases subdivision of the Walter Reed Army Research Institute, also confirmed that the US military is developing a vaccine "for all coronavirus families."