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Detecting RNA virus using Raman spectroscopy

Date: 08 July 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous


A team of researchers have conducted a proof-of-concept study to analyse non-infectious RNA viruses using conventional Raman Spectroscopy without using any additional reagent to enhance the signal.



  • For the study, the researchers spiked saliva samples with non-infectious RNA viruses and analysed it with Raman Spectroscopy.

  • They analysed the raw Raman Spectroscopy data and compared the signals with both viral positive and negative samples. 

  • Statistical analysis of all the 1,400 spectra obtained for each sample, showed a set of 65 Raman spectral features was adequate to identify the viral positive signal. 

  • They confirmed their finding by adding an enzyme that specifically degrades RNA molecule — the RNase — in presence of which the 65 spectra–based feature was completely abrogated that didn’t happen in presence of DNase or proteinase. 

  • To minimize variability and automate the analysis of the Raman spectra for RNA viruses, they developed an automated tool — RNA Virus Detector — using a graphical user interface.

  • The tool can be used for detecting RNA virus from an individual or a group of samples in an unambiguous and reproducible manner and is freely downloadable.

  • Since the tool can only identify RNA viruses and not identify the specific one, it can be used only for screening.

  • The advantage is that the tool can be taken to the field and people who test positive for RNA virus can be quarantined while another sample may be sent for validation using RT-PCR.

  • This conceptual framework to detect RNA viruses in saliva could form the basis for field application of Raman Spectroscopy in managing viral outbreaks, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.


Raman Spectroscopy

Raman Spectroscopy is a non-destructive chemical analysis technique which provides detailed information about chemical structure, phase and polymorphy, crystallinity and molecular interactions. It is based upon the interaction of light with the chemical bonds within a material.

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