Science

Japanese researchers use ostrich cells to create mask that glows if COVID-19 positive

A discovery made by Yasuhiro Tsukamoto and his team at Kyoto Prefectural University developed masks using ostrich antibodies to detect the coronavirus by glowing under ultraviolet light. The development could give rise to low-cost testing at home.

The researches began by creating a mask filter that was coated with ostrich antibodies against the coronavirus, and prior research showed that the birds have strong resistance to disease.

In a small study conducted by the researchers at the university in western Japan, subjects wore masks and waited eight hours. The filters in the masks were then removed and prayed with a chemical that glows under ultraviolet light in the presence of the coronavirus.

Results showed that the filters of the masks worn by those test subjects infected with COVID-19 glowed around the areas near the nose and mouth.

The team is hoping to continue to develop the masks in order for them to glow automatically if the virus is detected, without the need for special lighting or additional chemicals. Even while needing lighting and chemical spray, the masks are still being called a low-cost way to detect the virus away from a medical setting.

Tsukamoto, who is a veterinary professor and president of Kyoto Prefectural University, has been studying ostriches for several years. His research includes looking for ways to adapt the strength of their immunity power to fight several afflictions like bird flu, allergies, and others.

Tsukamoto informed the Kyodo news agency that he diagnosed his own case of the coronavirus. He had worn one of the modified masks and discovered that it glowed when he assessed it, and his diagnosis was confirmed following a standard test. 

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: REUTERS

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