Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University have designed a new face mask that can diagnose a wearer’s infection with the emerging coronavirus, within about 90 minutes.
Small sensors are integrated into the masks, and they can be discarded or re-installed in other face masks . It can also be adapted to detect other viruses.
The sensors rely on freeze-dried cellular machines, previously developed by the research team, for use in diagnosing infections with viruses such as Ebola and Zika
In the new study, the researchers showed that the sensors could be integrated not only into face masks, but also into clothing, such as lab coats, which could provide a new way to monitor health care workers’ exposure to a variety of pathogens or other threats.
“We’ve demonstrated that we can freeze a wide range of synthetic biosensors to detect viral or bacterial nucleic acids, as well as toxic chemicals, including neurotoxins,” said James Collins, professor of medical engineering and sciences at MIT and senior author of the study. .
“We envision that this platform can enable the next generation of wearable biosensors, for first responders, healthcare personnel, and military personnel
The face mask’s sensors are designed so that they can be activated by the wearer when they are ready to take the test, and the results are only displayed inside the mask, for user privacy.