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Personal smartphone-integrated virus sensors & app for rapid & accurate saliva self-screening with option to share results before entering common space.

We propose here to develop a potential point-of-care (POC) diagnostic system, using a chip-based potentiometric sensor, which directly detects the presence of the entire SARS-CoV-2 virion or its associated capsid proteins, using a 3D molecular imprinting technique. The technique was previously shown to be comparable to Elisa in accuracy of CEA cancer marker detection in humans with 1/100 of the test volume. In a recent publication, we demonstrated that the technique could detect ZIKV in saliva at sub-infectious concentrations of less than 10 PFU/mL and accurately discriminate against DENV. This technique, which is sensitive to details of the morphological structure of the analyte, rather than its genetic or proteomic sequence, is based on simple potentiometric detection, which can be interfaced with Bluetooth technology and transmit data to a smartphone. Since coronaviruses are very different than ZIKV, preliminary data on chips imprinted with purified flu viruses indicated feasibility by easily obtaining sensitivity to 102 PFU/mL. Hence here we propose a plan for;
(A) Adapt this technology to SARS-COV-2 viruses via the development of optimal imprinting and assay protocols using analogues and capsid proteins. (B) Transition to a BSL-3 for imprinting & testing with different strains of SARS-COV-2 virus and (C) miniaturizing the data acquisition, producing a flexible mount for the chip, and developing a user friendly, yet secure app for analyzing and communicating the results.

5 min Video of Capstone Project

Elevator Pitch

We're developing smartphone-integrated virus sensors for saliva self-screening with option to share results before entering common space.

Challenge Goals

We are repurposing our novel analyte detection platform to self-analyze one's saliva for Influenza viruses & SARS-CoV-2, using a chip-based potentiometric biosensor. The biosensor and basic lab prototype is to be miniaturized into a user-friendly diagnostic, for use and reuse anytime and anywhere. No sample manipulation is required. Just add saliva and receive results on your smartphone. Results are rapid (secs to mins), highly sensitive (LOD = 1 virion/mL), highly specific & there is no cross-reactivity. This is a tool for real-time detection & data share, detecting asymptomatic carriers with low viral load, app to generate virus conditions, forecasts & warning maps & can pair results with contactless access to enter businesses & events.


We have already validated the detection platform with H1N1, H2N3, spike proteins from SARS-CoV-1 & 2. We are preparing to move into the BSL-3 lab to validate with SARS-CoV-2. Pending funding, we will miniaturize the prototype into a user-friendly device and disposables. This should take about 1-2 months for an MVP. Mobile & Web apps will take 4 months to get MVP. Startegic Parnerships in Global Events & Venues access control will incorporate the MVP into operations. 


Our device is currently in the form of a lab prototype. It's very basic  - a 'chip' hanging by a clip in a beaker, sitting in a sample of saliva. The clip connected to the chip is an electrode-to-wire-to-electrode and potentiometer. Results are displayed on a basic computer - change in voltage.


Our prototype breaks new ground as a radically different approach to diagnostic capture. We use a chip-based potentiometric sensor prepared with molecular imprinting. The target is the entire 3-D morphological structure of an analyte, eg. a SARS-CoV-2 virion in its entirety. This method makes for ultra-sensitive & specific & rapid results with minimal sample & minimal viral load. This is a crucial technology to combat the Pandemic, particularly when used by individuals at home as they can self-test before leaving home each day, to ensure the slow and contain of viral spread.

Flexibility & Scalability

Our chip-based potentiometric sensor can be made to detect merely any analyte, including viruses, biomarkers, pathogens & proteins. The materials are relatively very basic, low-cost & certainly scalable on a mass scale.

Sustainability & Extensibility

Given the flexibility of our approach, it can be made to detect emerging pandemic-threatening viruses both known and as yet unknown. This can both mitigate & prevent outbreaks and help reopen businesses even earlier when they are paired with our product. Our real-time results will contribute significantly meaningful data, to generate more accurate virus condition, spread forecasts, & will allow for more accurate and smaller area lockdowns.

Team & Collaboration

Stony Brook University - Dr. Miriam Rafailovich, Dr. Matthew Jacobs, Dr. Marcia, Simon, Dr. Chang Yon Nam, Dr. Michael Gouzman, Priority Zones, ShareMyHealth, NewLab.

Additional Comments

What Team(s) contributed to this Capstone Project?

I learned of this opportunity late and didn't have time to formally engage with others. However, I did connect with Philomena Fritz of IBM who I will be speaking with tomorrow, to discuss ways in which we can collaborate. There is a very large upside to partnering with IBM as they could help with prototype, manufacturing of chips & software to harmonize & share results, as well as generate virus forecasting & risk stratification.

If you are using patient data, are you using real patient data or mock data? Please use MOCK patient data only

No answer chosen

Public (5)
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keyur Patel Nov 30, 2020

Do you have a prototype in place or a framework of hardware specs. identified?

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Matthew Jacobs Dec 1, 2020

We have a basic lab prototype. Very simple - a chip, clip electrode & potentiometer. I need to miniaturize it. That's next step.

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keyur Patel Dec 1, 2020

Got it. Thanks

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Sarah Covington Dec 1, 2020

Great up-cycle approach! Are the chips re-usable after a positive interaction with the saliva?

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Matthew Jacobs Dec 1, 2020

Thanks Sarah glad you like it. No each chip must be disposed due to contamination. I will look to put a recycling mechanism in place and/or use compostable material. Chips will be low-cost.

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Sophia B Liu Dec 8, 2020

This idea has been advanced to the current phase

People's Choice Voting Extended

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Sophia B Liu Dec 8, 2020

This idea has been advanced to the next phase

People's Choice Voting Extended

Reply 0

Andrea Pitkus Dec 14, 2020

Trying to understand if there are preconditions met by other software. (In general) 1. How to collect AOEs, from ordering provider/patient/specimen collector 2. Integrate into app/LIS or other information source for patient to be married to results of IVD test device/system 3. All transmitted to public health (ELR) 4. All transmitted to HHS (may be met by 3).

Will your approach support all 4 or only portions of above for "tracking lab results"?

Do you have app, webportal or EHR based data collection and reporting? How are patient performed results collected and reported?

Do you support LIS based reporting of ELR in HL7 v2.51 (per the MU IG)? For patient performed results are they routed to the physician who is required to report via electronic Case Reporting (eCR) by law? Is FHIR and V2.51 suporrted depending on where the reporting occurs

How/where are LOINC, SNOMED CT and other codes systems supported in your messaging to meet requirements?

How are CLIA testing requirements met in your system?

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