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Ultra-fast and onsite interrogation of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in environmental specimens via surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS)

By Dayi Zhang, Xiaoling Zhang, Rui Ma, Songqiang Deng, Xinquan Wang, Xian Zhang, Xia Huang, Yi Liu, Guanghe Li, Jiuhui Qu, Yu Zhu, Junyi Li

Posted 06 May 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.05.02.20086876

The outbreak of coronavirus infectious disease-2019 (COVID-19) pneumonia challenges the rapid interrogation of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in human and environmental specimens. In this study, we developed an assay using surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) coupled with multivariate analysis to diagnose SARS-CoV-2 in an ultra-fast manner without any pretreatment (e.g., RNA extraction). Using silver-nanorod SERS array functionalized with cellular receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), we obtained strong SERS signals of ACE2 at 1032, 1051, 1089, 1189, 1447 and 1527 cm-1. The recognition and binding of receptor binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein on SERS assay significantly quenched the spectral intensities of most peaks and exhibited a shift from 1189 to 1182 cm-1. On-site tests on 17 water samples with a portable Raman spectrometer proved its accuracy and easy-operation for spot diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 to evaluate disinfection performance, explore viral survival in environmental media, assess viral decay in wastewater treatment plant and track SARS-CoV-2 in pipe network. Our findings raise a state-of-the-art spectroscopic tool to screen and interrogate viruses with RBD for human cell entry, proving its feasibility and potential as an ultra-fast diagnostic tool for public health.

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