Health Futures Institute

Delivering a novel test for COVID19

Researchers at the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Innovative Therapeutics are developing a novel paper-based COVID19 testing method to deliver accurate results in minutes.


Areas of research

Molecular Medicine, Precision Nucleic Acid Therapeutics

Technology utilised


Lead researchers

Associate Professor Rakesh Veedu


What was the need for this project?

Since the COVID19 pandemic has taken the world by storm, scientists around the world have been working towards a vaccine.

However, while most research is focused on developing a vaccine that targets the virus, community transmission continues to spike and there is an increasing need to develop better early detection measures, effective treatments faster and slow down infection rates.


How the project was completed

The high-sensitivity detection test will use a novel molecular plug - called an ‘aptamer’ - that identifies the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in patients swabs, potentially at infectious levels, using a paper-based test. Aptamers are short, single-stranded DNA or RNA molecules that can selectively bind to a specific target due to their three-dimensional structures. In this case, the plug binds specifically to the viral spike protein and blocks the entry of the virus into human cells.

The new molecular plug has been developed in Dr Veedu’s laboratory, the only facility in WA capable of producing these aptamers with desired chemical tags in multiple scales using state-of-the-art oligonucleotide synthesisers.


Results and achievements for this project

The new test will help to reduce the public health risk by identifying infectious patients sooner and eliminating the threat of unwanted community transmission.

The spike protein-specific aptamers developed in this project also hold promise for a novel anti-COVID19 treatment. They play an important role in virus or host cell recognition, so there is tremendous opportunity to develop new anti-COVID19 therapeutics including a throat spray to potentially treat COVID19 patients as well.


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