Japanese Scientists Invent A Mask That Glows In The Presence Of COVID-19

Image via Kyoto Prefectural University

By now, we know that wearing masks can protect others from the spread of coronavirus. But what if, beyond prevention, the coverings could also tell one if they have contracted the virus?

Researchers from the Kyoto Prefectural University, Japan, have devised just that. The main ingredient is an unlikely star of the show: ostrich eggs.

Ostriches are the main topic of research for Yasuhiro Tsukamoto, president of the University and research lead for this project. Before the pandemic ever hit, he was already designing masks based on ostrich antibodies that could help the common flu, backed by years of study on this bird.

As it turns out, ostriches are much more capable than human beings at combatting COVID-19 thanks to the different antibodies they produce. Extracted from the eggs, these antibodies were incorporated into a fluorescent dye that was then sprayed onto a mask filter.

Image via Kyoto Prefectural University

When it comes into contact with the virus, contaminated areas of the mask filter will then glow when shone with UV light.

Kyodo News reports that a round of testing, spanning 10 days with 32 people infected with the coronavirus, showed that all the masks they wore glowed under the UV light. This then faded with time, as well as the decrease of their viral load.

“We can mass-produce antibodies from ostriches at a low cost,” Tsukamoto tells the Japanese news agency. “In the future, I want to make this into an easy testing kit that anyone can use.”

Image via Kyoto Prefectural University

But perhaps the ultimate test—an endorsement, if you will—comes in the form of Tsukamoto testing the mask, only to discover that he himself had gotten the coronavirus.

The next testing round is aiming at a larger sample size of 150 participants. With promising results, the team is hoping that the invention will receive government approval and these masks can be sold as soon as next year.

[via Futurism, images via Kyoto Prefectural University] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/416978/Japanese-Scientists-Invent-A-Mask-That-Glows-In-The-Presence-Of-COVID-19/

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