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Glucómetros económicos para detectar el COVID-19

Es muy común que los pacientes con diabetes utilicen glucómetros económicos para llevar a cabo un seguimiento de los niveles de azúcar en la sangre.

Ahora, un grupo de investigadores espera aplicar ese mismo dispositivo de bajo costo para realizar pruebas de detección de COVID-19.

Así por lo menos lo afirma un estudio publicado a comienzos de marzo en Biosensores y bioelectrónica, que detalla este nuevo enfoque del glucómetro que podría detectar niveles muy bajos de coronavirus en la saliva.

¿Cómo funciona?

Para llevar a cabo la prueba. El dispositivo se basa en un tramo corto de ADN conocido como aptámero, que puede unirse a una proteína específica del virus de la misma forma que un anticuerpo se une a un antígeno.

De acuerdo con el estudio: “El aptámero comienza ligeramente envuelto en su hebra complementaria antisentido, una hebra de ADN molde no codificante que normalmente se utiliza para producir ARN mensajero. Si el virus está presente, el aptámero prefiere su antígeno proteico en el virus sobre la hebra antisentido. Cuando el aptámero se une al virus, el aptámero cambia de forma”.

Una enzima conocida como invertasa reacciona con la sacarosa para producir mucha glucosa. El glucómetro puede detectar esa glucosa, que se correlaciona con la cantidad de virus que hay en la saliva del paciente.

“La mayoría de las pruebas que leen cosas cuantitativamente o con una lectura digital requieren un equipo relativamente caro”, explica Eliah Aronoff-Spencer, investigador de la Universidad de California en San Diego y coautor del artículo.

“Este método le permitiría detectar casi cualquier sustrato con un glucómetro barato en cualquier parte del mundo. Mucha gente ha hecho piezas de esta innovación y la hemos reunido, creo que por primera vez, para COVID-19”.

Los investigadores creen que este recurso podría ser muy utilizado en países en desarrollo, donde los gastos médicos se han disparado debido a la pandemia.

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