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A team of researchers from the University of Tokyo and the French National Center for Scientific Research has said it will develop by March next year a prototype paper sensor for detecting the new coronavirus.

The team aims to ultimately develop a product that will allow people to find out whether they have contracted COVID-19 only by taking photographs of the paper sensors with their smartphones after placing their saliva on them.

“By using paper, we can make the test kit disposable, not to mention cheaper,” Tsuyoshi Minami, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science, said.

The French side will develop microparticles that light up when combined with RNA of the new coronavirus. The surface of the microparticles will be covered with DNA that becomes bound only to the virus’s RNA.

As the possibility of the paper sensors giving a false positive or false negative may rise if there is only one kind of test kit, the French researchers plan to come up with multiple kinds that employ different combinations of RNA and DNA sequences and microparticles that glow in various ways.

Meanwhile, the University of Tokyo side will put the microparticles on the paper.

Photos of the paper sensor will be used for COVID-19 detection through image processing via a smartphone.

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