University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine doctor develops rapid COVID test with smartphone results


PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) – As the world protected itself from COVID-19 in 2020, Dr Ping Wang and his team at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine were studying it on a microscopic level.

“It’s pretty scary, I have to be honest, especially in March. That’s when the whole university closed,” said Dr. Wang, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine.

She knew she had the research to help her, and her main tool is already in your pocket.

“The other cool thing about technology is that we only need to use smartphones, which everyone has,” she said.

Before the pandemic, she had already researched how patients could use their phones to get very accurate diagnostic tests for different illnesses at home. This is something that is missing from our COVID-19 testing tool belt.

“PCR is great. It is sensitive, but at the same time it only resides in central labs. So you can’t really do PCR at home for most settings,” she explained. .

His test uses nasal swabs and something called a “microbubble”. The more viruses a person has, the more bubbles appear on your device’s camera.

Out of 4000 samples, the test was accurate 97% of the time, which is comparable to PCR tests.

Dr. Wang’s dream for this technology goes far beyond the pandemic. She says it will allow more home diagnostic testing to be done and will be a game-changer for patient care and access.

“We can adapt our technology to all of these needs. I think in the long run that’s where we’re going,” she said.

There is still a long process before Dr. Wang’s research becomes available. It is currently under review by the FDA for emergency use authorization in laboratories, and they have not yet been submitted for approval as a home test. She believes this will eventually change healthcare as we know it.

“I think the confidence gave me the motivation to go through with it,” she said.

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