Professor helping develop better way to diagnose COVID-19

The project aims to provide better, speedier test results.

Jan. 5, 2021

Dong Xu

Dong Xu

Dong Xu, Shumaker Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in the University of Missouri College of Engineering, is working with a company to improve COVID-19 testing.

Currently, health care workers test for the virus using nasal swabs. While this method is typically fast, results aren’t always accurate. In contrast, traditional DNA testing methods can be slow, but the results are often accurate. This project aims to provide better, speedier results by developing a system to analyze DNA data.

“DNA contains many other sequences, including other viruses and bacteria, so we will sort it out to identify whether there is any coronavirus in the sample,” Xu said. “This method can also tell what kinds of virus sequence the sample contains, and that can help to tell whether it is a more severe type of COVID or a milder version.”

Ideally, the proposed testing method would diagnose COVID-19 within 15 minutes of a person providing a saliva sample.

“As a researcher, we not only want to address the fundamental science problems, but we also like to help real societal issues,” Xu said. “This coronavirus has a big impact on all of us. A lot of researchers, including myself, want to try to find a way to do our part.”

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