Scientists use ostrich cells to make glowing Covid detection masks | Coronavirus


Japanese researchers have developed masks that use ostrich antibodies to detect Covid-19 by glowing under ultraviolet light.

The discovery, by Yasuhiro Tsukamoto and his team at Kyoto Prefectural University in western Japan, could provide for low-cost testing of the virus at home.

The scientists started by creating a mask filter coated with ostrich antibodies targeting the virus, based on previous research showing the birds had strong resistance to disease.

In a small study, test subjects wore the masks, and after eight hours the filters were removed and sprayed with a chemical that glows under ultraviolet light if the virus is present. The filters worn by people infected with Covid glowed around the nose and mouth.

The team hopes to further develop the masks so that they will glow automatically, without special lighting, if the virus is detected.

Yasuhiro Tsukamoto holding an ostrich egg.
Yasuhiro Tsukamoto holding an ostrich egg. Photograph: Kyoto Prefectural University/Reuters

Tsukamoto, a veterinary professor and the president of the university, has studied ostriches for years, looking for ways to adapt their immunity power to fight bird flu, allergies, and other diseases.

Tsukamoto told the Kyodo news agency he discovered his own positivity for Covid after he wore one of the special masks. The diagnosis was confirmed after a standard test.

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