New platforms for the rapid and sensitive detection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants of concern are urgently needed. Here we report the development of a nanomechanical sensor based on the deflection of a microcantilever capable of detecting the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) glycoprotein antigen using computationally designed multivalent minibinders immobilized on a microcantilever surface. The sensor exhibits rapid (<5 min) detection of the target antigens down to concentrations of 0.05 ng/mL (362 fM) and is more than an order of magnitude more sensitive than an antibody-based cantilever sensor. Validation of the sensor with clinical samples from 33 patients, including 9 patients infected with the Omicron (BA.1) variant observed detection of antigen from nasopharyngeal swabs with cycle threshold (Ct) values as high as 39, suggesting a limit of detection similar to that of the quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). Our findings demonstrate the use of minibinders and nanomechanical sensors for the rapid and sensitive detection of SARS-CoV-2 and potentially other disease markers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry