Smartphone-read phage lateral flow assay for point-of-care detection of infection†
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for sensitive, affordable, and widely accessible testing at the point of care. Here we demonstrate a new, universal LFA platform technology using M13 phage conjugated with antibodies and HRP enzymes that offers high analytical sensitivity and excellent performance in a complex clinical matrix. We also report its complete integration into a sensitive chemiluminescence-based smartphone-readable lateral flow assay for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 nucleoprotein. We screened 84 anti-nucleoprotein monoclonal antibody pairs in phage LFA and identified an antibody pair that gave an LoD of 25 pg mL−1 nucleoprotein in nasal swab extract using a FluorChem gel documentation system and 100 pg mL−1 when the test was imaged and analyzed by an in-house-developed smartphone reader. The smartphone-read LFA signals for positive clinical samples tested (N = 15, with known Ct) were statistically different (p < 0.001) from signals for negative clinical samples (N = 11). The phage LFA technology combined with smartphone chemiluminescence imaging can enable the timely development of ultrasensitive, affordable point-of-care testing platforms for SARS-CoV-2 and beyond.