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Drug- and vaccine-based methods of attacking the SARS-CoV-2 virus rely on chemical properties to identify the virus (for example surface antigens). These chemical properties can change when the virus mutates, rendering those therapies ineffective. An alternative method for identifying the virus would be to use the physical properties (size, shape, rigidity) of the viral capsule (capsid). These capsid properties make the virus easy to recognize with a microscope. Without an intact capsid, the virus cannot survive in the body. Shape Theranostics is trying to use microscopic iron devices that will take advantage of the unique physical properties of the viral capsid to identify and inactivate the virus.

In a newly published work supported by the U.S. National Institute for Aging, Shape Theranostics scientists (working with investigators at Georgetown University) showed that the micro-devices can change MRI signals in a way that depends on viral load. These signals enabled quantitative measurement of the SARS-CoV-2 in physiological solutions. The amount of iron in these investigational products would be less than for off-the-shelf oral iron supplements. Initial preclinical studies demonstrated no toxicity from the micro-devices. The publication (IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology) can be downloaded from