The technique of masks coated with Ostrich antibodies can be used in making easy testing kits for Covid-19 on an industrial scale, researchers say.

The team hopes to further develop the masks so that they will glow automatically, without special lighting, if the virus is detected.
The team hopes to further develop the masks so that they will glow automatically, without special lighting, if the virus is detected. (Reuters)

Japanese researchers have developed masks that use ostrich antibodies to detect Covid-19 by glowing under ultraviolet light.

The discovery by Yasuhiro Tsukamoto and his team at Kyoto Prefectural University in western Japan could provide for low-cost testing of the virus at home.

The scientists started by creating a mask filter coated with antibodies extracted from ostrich eggs targeting the novel coronavirus, based on previous research showing the birds have strong resistance to disease.

In a small study, test subjects wore the masks and after eight hours the filters were removed and sprayed with a chemical that glows under ultraviolet light if the virus is present.

The filters worn by people infected with Covid-19 glowed around the nose and mouth areas.

The team hopes to further develop the masks so that they will glow automatically, without special lighting, if the virus is detected.

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Years of study

Tsukamoto, a veterinary professor and the president of the university, has studied ostriches for years, looking for ways to adapt their immunity power to fight bird flu, allergies and other diseases.

Tsukamoto told the Kyodo news agency he discovered his own positivity for Covid-19 after he wore one of the special masks and found that it glowed when checked.

The diagnosis was then confirmed after a standard test.

Last February, the researchers had injected “an inactive and non-threatening form of the coronavirus into female ostriches.”

The experiment was successful since a huge quantity of antibodies were extracted from the ostriches' eggs.

“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 said.

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Source: Reuters