SARS-CoV-2 Aptasensors Based on Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy and Low-Cost Gold Electrode Substrates
SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic practices broadly involve either quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR)-based nucleic amplification of viral sequences or antigen-based tests such as lateral flow assays (LFAs). Reverse transcriptase-qPCR can detect viral RNA and is the gold standard for sensitivity. However, the technique is time-consuming and requires expensive laboratory infrastructure and trained staff. LFAs are lower in cost and near real time, and because they are antigen-based, they have the potential to provide a more accurate indication of a disease state. However, LFAs are reported to have low real-world sensitivity and in most cases are only qualitative. Here, an antigen-based electrochemical aptamer sensor is presented, which has the potential to address some of these shortfalls. An aptamer, raised to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, was immobilized on a low-cost gold-coated polyester substrate adapted from the blood glucose testing industry. Clinically relevant detection levels for SARS-CoV-2 are achieved in a simple, label-free measurement format using sample incubation times as short as 15 min on nasopharyngeal swab samples. This assay can readily be optimized for mass manufacture and is compatible with a low-cost meter.