Aside from aggressive COVID-19 testing, South Korea also deployed temperature checks at entries of every indoor public facilities. Since the advent COVID-19 pandemic, thermal screening for all visitors at the entrance of buildings has become a standard protocol in Korea.
However, the current thermal screening devices such as thermometers and infrared cameras are far from efficient. Thermometers are needlessly time-consuming and require close contact, which have a potential danger of the spreading of COVID-19. Infrared cameras are not the best option either. Although they require less time and contact than thermometers, infrared cameras still need additional personnel to operate them. This will mean an increase in human resources(HR) expenses for building owners and managers. Moreover, both thermometers and infrared cameras are subject to lapses and fail to catch people sneaking in using antipyretics since they can‘t monitor temperature continuously.
Likewise, the current thermal screening devices greatly inconvenience everyone. To address this issue, KUAS iGem sought out to develop a better way to keep track of body temperatures. We designed a simple wearable device, ‘Thermopatch‘, which is capable of constant monitoring of body surface temperature. We believe ‘Thermopatch‘ to be a better substitute of the current thermal screening devices.
For amplification, we plan to use CHA(Catalyst Hairpin Assembly). CHA is a highly efficient isothermal amplification method that does not require enzymes. It will facilitate the activation of our system with just a small amount of heat signal.
For detection components, we intend to use Broccoli and an RNA thermosensor. Broccoli is an RNA aptamer that binds with DFHBI(fluorogen). In CHA system, Broccoli will exist in the form of two split aptamers: H1-Broc and H2-Coli. The spontaneous hybridization of these aptamers are impossible since it is kinetically hindered by its hairpin loops. This is where the RNA thermosensor comes in to play. The RNA thermosensor(C in the figure), the RNA part we designed, unfold it’s hairpin structure at certain temperature. This unfolded form binds to H1 and consequently induce the hybridization of H1-Broc and H2-Coli, making complete form of Broccoli. Thus, with the help of the RNA thermosensor, the Broccoli will bind with DFHBI, which will activate fluorescence. The more Broccoli-DFHBI complexes accumulated, the stronger the fluorescence will get.
The following figure is a brief summary of the explanation above.
Our modeling and experiment aim to construct the optimal RNA thermosensor. To achieve this, we modeled and designed to experiment the kinetics of multiple different RNA sequences to find the sequence that works best in a 37.5°c(100.4°F) environment; the reason we chose 37.5°c(100.4°F) is because the CDC(Center for Disease Control) considers a person to have a fever when he or she has measured temperature of 37.5°c(100.4°F) or above.
Future Possible Applications
Besides thermo-detection for COVID-19, “Thermopatch” has potentials to be implemented in a variety of fields. The following are some of the examples of possible applications.
Post Operative Fever Monitoring
Post surgery fever is one of the most prevalent complications facing patients, occurring in over half of the time. While some fevers are not serious, others can be a sign of major problems.
Current methods of tracking patient body temperature is time consuming, subject to lapses, and disruptive due to contact between the care provider and the patient.
With increasing demand for medical services along with staffing pressures, hospitals need a more efficient solution to ensure comfort and quality of patient care.
Nursing Home Care
The elderly and chronically ill are especially susceptible to health issues, and the occurrence of a fever can be the first indication of a problem.
Patients may not realize a fever is occurring until it gets to a certain level, and caregivers may not have time to closely monitor every patient all the time.
A wearable continuous fever monitor that automatically tracks body temperature, with notifications, can be an essential early fever detection tool during flu season or with "at-risk" patients.
Clinical Drug Trials
An indicator of side effects from drug trials is changes in body temperature. Monitoring in clinical settings may be sufficiently covered by clinicians, but monitoring of discharged subjects remain a challenge.
Remote monitoring of subject body temperature relies on adherence to protocols by the subject themself, up to three times a day or more. This is problematic as subjects may forget or simply ignore protocols.
With wearable continuous temperature monitors, clinicians can more easily track changes in body temperature from remote locations.
-Brainstroming : January to April, we mostly spent our time on brainstorming.
-We listed up ideas we want to do this year
-Stent made by ELM, 3D bio printer, DNA Cryptography, Jaundice Patients' temperature detecting patch were the main ideas we discussed.
-Other tens of ideas were discarded
-Interview with a Pediatrician
-Interview with a staff in Korea University
-Collaboration with SIS team
-Heat distribution modeling
-Collaboration with KSA
-Collaboration with Jilin China
-Biosafety interview with Prof. Lee
-Hairpin - van't hoff equation modeling
-RNA Aptamer - which system is the most fit?
-DNA Aptamer - discussed if DNA aptamer is better than RNA Apatmer
-Body temperature measurement : where to attach
-Meeting with Roger Sanchez : How to model the CHA system