Researchers develop PCR test device to detect multiple viruses within 40 minutes

By Park Sae-jin Posted : December 1, 2022, 15:34 Updated : December 1, 2022, 15:34

[Courtesy of ETRI]

SEOUL -- South Korean researchers have developed an affordable polymerase chain reaction test device that can detect up to four kinds of RNA and DNA viruses at a time within 40 minutes. Conventional PCR test devices are complicated machines that take at least a few hours to detect only one or two targeted viruses.
The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test method became one of the most widespread virus test methods during the COVID-19 pandemic because of its accurate test method. However, many PCR test machines are very bulky and expensive. Because there are very few PCR test machines, samples are taken from COVID-19 screening centers to the nearest testing lab and patients have to normally wait for many hours until test results are notified.
Test methods use PCR machines that separate and amplify genes. Fluorescent markers adhere to genes that will send out fluorescent signals when shone with light using various color filters. Signals are then converted into codes to detect target viruses or gene fragments.
The new affordable PCR test device developed by the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) does not use expensive color filters. Instead, it uses an orthogonal code-based signal processing technique to make the composition of the electronic device simpler and more accurate than conventional machines.
ETRI said the size of its new test device is about 40 percent smaller than its predecessors and can detect up to four kinds of viruses per test. It is about 20 percent cheaper than conventional PCR test devices.
"This technique is a gene analysis technique that can conveniently and quickly detect multiple viruses." ETRI researcher Seo Hong-seok said in a statement on December 1. He said that the era of smart health technology will come sooner thanks to the development of the new PCR device. The institute is in talks with medical device makers and biosensor makers for technology transfer and commercialization.
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