AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Astronomy tools used to detect COVID-19 !?

Would you ever expect a laser designed for outer space to analyze your health? If you answered yes, get ready to learn why! If not, pay close attention because what you’re about to learn is incredible! This laser is called an “optical frequency comb.” These lasers emit light waves, initially for researching outer space and accurate timekeeping. Because of the COVID outbreak, researchers have found a more promising use of this frequency mechanism. 

The Optical Frequency Comb received its name from the way it functions. These FrequencyComb-measurement
rapid bursts happen in a specific order across different colors of light, ranging from infrared to ultraviolet. When these frequencies are on a graph, it creates peaks that are said to look like the “teeth” of a comb. Now, researchers are exploring the possibility of utilizing this tool to identify specific molecules associated with COVID, and the comb can potentially identify these molecules by recognizing the absorbed colors. It would make most sense that the laser seeks out particular proteins on the virus. As evaluated in our AP Biology class, we know proteins are extremely important in terms of viruses. Proteins in viruses play a vital role by building the virus’s structure and helping it interact with the host’s cells. They enable the virus to enter cells, replicate, and avoid the host’s immune response. Viral proteins also manipulate the host’s cellular functions/processes, ensuring the virus’s survival and spread in the host organism.

Because specific molecules absorb distinct colors of light. The comb can recognize certain molecules in an air sample by identifying the absorbed colors. Because of the severe global pandemic, scientists have found a way to utilize this tool to diagnose patients with COVID in a less “nosy” technique (literally)! Rather than sticking a swab up your nose, all you have to do is exhale. Easy!

Researcher Qizhong Liang mentions that it is best to take the typical PCR test for a more precise result. Because this new COVID testing method is new and still under evaluation, it is best to double-check the test results. Nevertheless, this researchSARS-CoV-2 without background offers a promising future for detecting diseases, such as COVID-19, in a quicker, less effortless way! I find it incredibly fascinating how a group of scientists could take an astronomy tool and use it medically to help diagnose patients. Would you trust this method to diagnose you?

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1 Comment

  1. lagoon1

    Sandovalosome your post about the Optical Frequency Comb was very interesting in relation to the topic of COVID. I never would have thought that a laser designed for space research could be used and redesigned for diagnosing COVID-19. The way the comb is able to take information of rapid light bursts to create a graph is fascinating. I enjoyed learning how there could be a new way to diagnose COVID in your post and made me research more in depth on how these combs can be used ( Using this technique to identify specific molecules associated with the virus is impressive. As I learned from AP Bio class, the molecules and especially the proteins are so important in virus structure and function. Now it seems they could be even more important when using new technology. The idea that we can potentially identify molecules by recognizing absorbed colors seems like a better way of identifying COVID than using swabs. It’s fascinating to think this innovation can possibly identify other diseases in the future. I’m curious to know more about the reliability and precision compared to PCR tests, as you mentioned. I think there is great potential, but as of now I feel I would not rely on this method until there is more research done. Thanks for sharing this post!

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