UCI News

High-Speed Research, High-Impact Application

July 6, 2020
High-Speed Research, High-Impact Application
Julia Zakashansky, a doctoral student in materials science & engineering, is spearheading the effort to develop the CoronaStrip – a rapid, direct test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus itself, as opposed to the infection caused by the virus – in the lab of Michelle Khine, UCI professor of biomedical engineering as well as materials science & engineering. The assay, based on a paper strip using saliva, could be widely distributed by hospital personnel to the general public for self-screening. The CoronaStrip will be tested in UCI’s Department of Emergency Medicine. Healthcare workers could be among the first targeted recipients of the product to determine whether they’re uninfected when leaving the hospital.

While all but essential research shut down, studies connected to COVID-19 ramped up as UCI’s scientific community mobilized in a quest to serve the public good. Researchers harnessed their intellectual resources to investigate how the coronavirus behaves and mutates. They created diagnostic tools to help doctors predict which patients are
more likely to be admitted to the ICU. And they launched antibody and surveillance studies to better assess the prevalence of the virus in the population and to understand why some people with COVID-19 get very sick while others don’t. Charged with producing and disseminating factual, evidence-based data, these experts welcomed what they saw as a tremendous period of collaboration among colleagues throughout the nation and the world. “The wonderful thing is that [researchers] understood the circumstances that the entire
community was facing,” said Pramod Khargonekar, UCI’s vice chancellor for research. “And the first thing they wanted to do was contribute in a meaningful way, however they could.”

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