Finally: A Point-of-Care Rapid PCR Test

The portable device is as sensitive and accurate as lab-based PCR tests and provides results in under 25 minutes.

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When I traveled internationally a few months ago, I needed a negative PCR result within two days of my departure. However, the lab said they needed 48-72 hours to produce results. Luckily my results came in early and I was able to travel, but it seemed so odd that I had to wait until hours before my flight to know if I’d be able to go. According to a recent Medgadget article, situations like this will soon be a thing of the past thanks to a new rapid PCR test that produces results in as little as 23 minutes.

The portable point of care test, dubbed the Rover LightSpeed PCR, was developed by scientists at Columbia University in collaboration with Rover Diagnostics. It weighs just two pounds and contains miniaturized optical components that use plasmonic thermocycling. It uses infrared light to excite plasmonic nanoparticles in human samples and gently heats them, speeding up the process. The team is using their findings to develop a commercial product that will focus on the detection of COVID-19.