By Adrienne Moore

DAVIS (CBS13) — Researchers at UC Davis are developing a product to better protect people from the novel coronavirus and make testing easier and faster.

“We really want to make a difference in society and this is a really excellent opportunity to do that,” UC Davis chemistry professor Michael Toney said. 

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By knitting special protein molecules together like velcro, researchers have created a better binding technology for catching and combatting coronavirus. 

“A monomer is like one railroad car and then each one of those railroad cars would have a virus binding site, and then you’d put those virus cars together in a long train, and then you have a long railroad car to bind the virus,” Toney said.

Professor Daniel Cox said it could be an aerosol or a liquid that could be painted on or dipped in. The hope is to coat protective equipment to better prevent potentially harmful droplets from being exchanged. 

“You won’t have to use much of it, you’ll just have to spray it on or coat it on,” Professor Cox said. “You’d take the existing mask and just make it better.”

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It could also be used for a rapid diagnostic test, similar to a pregnancy test, but this one would use saliva. 

“Instead of having to send it off to clinic to have it tested and sequenced, you could do it right there,” Cox said. You could do it at home, you could do it in a tent. You could do it right there.”

But the work is not over yet. If prototypes are successful, the team at UC Davis will still need to secure a partner to help manufacture and distribute the test in clinical trials. It’s a promising start to providing a deeper level of safety at a time where certainty and a vaccine remain elusive. 

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The product must be FDA approved before it can be mass-produced.

Adrienne Moore