A group of researchers in west Japan has created masks that glow if they contain trace amounts of coronavirus when exposed to UV light. The coronavirus is detected using antibodies derived from the eggs of ostriches.
Yasuhiro Tsukamoto, the current acting president for the individual researchers involved in this project, has high hopes for the mask. He believes that the masks give a cheap and easy method to diagnose whether they have been infected with the virus or not.
As they are still testing practical uses, the group hopes to secure government approval before marketing the masks next year.
Ostriches can produce many different types of antibodies which neutralize foreign substances within the body. In February of last year, researchers injected an inactive, non-threatening version of coronavirus in female ostriches. They later extracted an abundance of antibodies from the eggs they laid.
The group then created the filter fitted inside the face mask. The filter can be pulled out and then sprayed with a fluorescent dye that contains coronavirus antibodies derived from the eggs of ostriches. The filter will light up when exposed to ultraviolet light if the virus is present.
The researchers conducted tests for up to 10 days with 32 people infected with the coronavirus virus; they observed that their masks sparkled under ultraviolet light. However, the glow was diminished over time, and their viral burden decreased.
The team of Tsukamoto is now planning to extend the research to include 150 participants. The president himself has been diagnosed with the virus with the help of the mask. He noticed the glow in the mask and then went to take the test and confirmed that he was infected with the coronavirus.
“We can mass-produce antibodies from ostriches at a low cost. In the future, I want to make this into an easy testing kit that anyone can use,” Tsukamoto declared.
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