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Real-Time On-Site Monitoring of Viruses in Wastewater Using Nanotrap® Particles and RICCA Technologies


Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) is an effective and efficient tool for the early detection of infectious disease outbreaks in a community. However, currently available methods are laborious, costly, and time-consuming due to the low concentration of viruses and the presence of matrix chemicals in wastewater that may interfere with molecular analyses. In the present study, we designed a highly sensitive "Quick Poop (wastewater with fecal waste) Sensor" (termed, QPsor) using a joint approach of Nanotrap microbiome particles and RICCA (RNA Isothermal Co-Assisted and Coupled Amplification). Using QPsor, the WBE study showed a strong correlation with standard PEG concentrations and the qPCR technique. Using a closed format for a paper-based lateral flow assay, we were able to demonstrate the potential of our assay as a real-time, point-of-care test by detecting the heat-inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus in wastewater at concentrations of 100 copies/mL and within one hour. As a proof-of-concept demonstration, we analyzed the presence of viral RNA of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and PMMoV in raw wastewater samples from wastewater treatment plants on-site and within 60 min. The results show that the QPsor method can be an effective tool for disease outbreak detection by combining an AI-enabled case detection model with real-time on-site viral RNA extraction and amplification, especially in the absence of intensive clinical laboratory facilities. The lab-free, lab-quality test capabilities of QPsor for viral prevalence and transmission in the community can contribute to the efficient management of pandemic situations.

Figure 1

A schematic layout of the QPsor system to monitor SARS-CoV-2 viruses in wastewater. Possible results (test line positive or negative) are highlighted by red box in step-6.


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