UW Professors, Student Lead Research On New COVID Rapid Test

Two University of Wyoming professors and one PhD student have led research into a new, more sensitive, rapid COVID test, according to a recently published scholarly journal article.

Ellen Fike

April 13, 20222 min read

Saliva test scaled
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Two University of Wyoming professors and one doctoral candidate have spearheaded research into a new, more sensitive rapid COVID test.

Assistant chemical engineering Professor Karen Wawrousek and chemical engineering student Moein Mohammadi, joined by UW Chemical Engineering Department Director Patrick Johnson and researchers at the National University of Ireland in Galway, developed a more sensitive version of the rapid COVID tests used in homes.

The test developed by the researchers detects a spike protein in SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID. The test allows for a more defined result in a COVID test compared to many rapid tests available on the market now, the researchers said.

“The commercial antigen test you can do at home catches a lot of the COVID cases, but not all of them,” Wawrousek said.

The team developed a process to analyze a substance to determine its composition or quality, also known as an assay, was to detect the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

For testing of the process, samples were placed in glass vials and inserted into hand-held instruments for analysis. This type of assay will allow for testing in rural and remote areas and on-site at airports, among other locations, Johnson said.

Johnson added one advantage of the new technology is that it can be used to detect other diseases simultaneously, not just COVID. He added he hopes the research team can expand the test to include a respiratory panel to detect not only COVID, but also various types of influenza and more.

Wawrousek and Mohammadi wrote a paper about the team’s development that has been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Now that the paper has been published, the team is back at work, attempting to improve on its research.

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Ellen Fike