When viral outbreak strikes, we need a diagnosis stat, and it has to be right.

When viral outbreak strikes, we need a diagnosis stat, and it has to be right.

RAM Global’s Terahertz Express Analyzer Sensing Platform, aka ThEA, can diagnose viral infections at point of care—including coronavirus—in less than 2 minutes, with 99% sensitivity and at a fraction of the cost of other tests.

Our ThEA Platform is biochemical free—it’s contactless, portable, completely digital, and extremely user-friendly. With a ThEA readout system, anyone can test for any virus anywhere.

The sooner we detect a viral infection, the sooner we can take care of patients and prevent the spread to others. The best way to do that is with a quick, reliable test. The ThEA Platform will provide fast, accurate results even before a patient exhibits symptoms of infection. With widespread use, the ThEA Platform can help curb rapid spread of disease and help ensure better care by easing pressure on our overburdened health care system.

Conventional bio-chemical tests for viral infection have limitations. For starters, the sample has to have a high level of the virus and the antibodies that the body’s immune system makes to fight the virus, in order to trigger a positive result. This means you can have the virus for days before these tests can detect it. Plus, they’re expensive and take hours–sometimes days–to deliver results. They also require specialized labs to be processed. And, because the process is biochemical in nature, it is subject to environmental factors that can contribute to a high percentage of false negative or false positive results. In fact, many commonly used COVID-19 testing platforms achieve sensitivities of less than 80%, even when there is a high CT value. 

Other testing options available, such as X-ray and CT Scans are more sensitive than biochemical tests, but there are far fewer of them available and they are even more expensive. They still require the disease to be fairly far along in order to detect it. 

To help solve this problem, we decided to take our proprietary Terahertz Express Analyzer Sensing technology and next-generation sensors and apply them to a diagnostic platform. 

Initial studies show the ThEA Platform achieves significantly stronger viral detection, even when there’s as few as 10 viral particles in a sample. Because our process is digital, it requires no labs, no chemicals, and gives no chance for transport or environmental factors, such as temperature change, to affect the process. Altogether, that adds up to a 99% sensitivity rate. In fact, the platform is so sensitive, it can tell the difference between different strains of the same virus, giving healthcare workers vital insights into virus mutations. 

Our system is comprised of two parts: first, the ThEA portable readout system—a user-friendly, cloud-connected interface—and second, a test kit that holds a patient sample, such as a simple throat swab. Insert the kit into the ThEA and in less than 2 minutes, you’ll know if a patient is infected or virus free. Because the kit is housed in an industry standard, eco-conscious plastic case, it’s very affordable and easy to manufacture and distribute. And because the kit is single use, it’s very sanitary.

The ThEA portable readout system itself, however, will become a permanent addition to the healthcare provider’s infrastructure. The ThEA platform can be used thousands of times to diagnose any number of pathogens, including COVID-19 coronavirus. When deployed at scale, the highly-portable ThEA Platform and test kits can be used to rapidly screen people during a viral outbreak – quickly differentiating between patients who need to be treated and persons who are safe to go about their day. Its versatility makes it an ideal asset for medical professionals in situations ranging from the common to the extraordinary. 

The ThEA Platform automatically backs up information to a cloud-connected database that can be shared by healthcare providers, agencies, local, state, and federal authorities. This digitalization could make it easier than ever to track the progress of an outbreak, eliminate redundant testing, and to create “exposure trees” that detail who the patients have interacted with since their infection. Armed with this knowledge, health officials could quickly ascertain who else needs to be tested, who should be treated or isolated, and who can safely continue their normal activities. This could help greatly reduce the need for a societal shutdown in the case of future pandemics.

99% Sensitivity Range Shown in 3rd Party Study (at = or < CT36)

Many commonly used COVID-19 testing platforms achieve sensitivities less than 80%, even when there is a higher CT value.

More About Electronic Terahertz Sensors
New generation terahertz sensors for non-destructive and contactless sensing applications to detect and analyze target compounds through solid materials, such as walls, wood and glass.

How ThEA Works

Everything gives off a unique energy, even viruses. This energy is a frequency wave that goes up and down a certain number of times per second. Think of it as a sort of hum. This energy release is measured in hertz. One hertz equals one cycle in a second – a single peak in the energy wave. One kilohertz is a thousand cycles in a second. That’s one thousand peaks, and one thousand troughs, or gaps in between peaks. One terahertz is one trillion cycles in a second.

It turns out that proteins and genetic material like DNA and RNA, which viruses produce, have a special reaction to terahertz frequencies. These proteins and genetic material emit energy that has a uniquely strong and specific reaction to terahertz frequencies.  

They actually bind to the miniscule structures that form the microscopic gaps in between each wave in the terahertz cycle. Specific proteins and genetic materials respond to specific frequencies in the 1 to 2 terahertz range.

The ThEA Platform uses specially designed glass to create resonances at specific points in the 1 to 2 terahertz range. By tuning the device to specific points along this spectrum, the platform can attract the exact genetic material that responds only to that unique frequency. Once the genetic material is found in the gap, the ThEA Platform alerts the practitioner by signaling a positive result. If the frequency does not attract the specific protein, DNA, or RNA that it is “calling” for, then it signals the absence of that genetic material by giving a negative result. 

This process requires no chemical re-agents, such as substances added to the body fluid samples for the purpose of diagnostics. By eliminating this cumbersome step, the chances of error due to environmental factors (such as temperature) are drastically reduced, and true portability becomes possible. In normal times, this is a huge convenience, not to mention a massive cost saver. But in times of mass viral outbreak, this can be the difference between life and death.

 

The Potential Benefits of an Electronic Terahertz Diagnostic Platform

Label-free, contactless testing

Detect within first 24 hours of exposure

Instant results at point of contact

Reduce false positives and negatives

Detect and differentiate virus subtypes

Re-agent free

The Opportunity to Outperform Genetic Testing

Genetic-based testing is one of the most common diagnostic platforms for COVID-19. It uses PCR/RT-PCR/rRT-PCR to analyze nucleic acids.

STANDARD GENETIC TESTING CAPABILITIES

RT-PCR testing sensitivity can range widely between 75% and 90%

Requires reagent substances to be mixed with patients’ saliva or mucus samples

PCR based genetic testing takes at least 4 hours to perform from start to finish

Requires lab infrastructures due to sample extraction process; limited to centralized lab facilities

Dependent upon PCR and amplification procedures

Antibody based detection; genetic probe-based detection

Doesn’t exclude COVID-19 (especially if obtained from a nasopharyngeal source or if taken relatively early in the disease course)

Intrinsic mutation rate of coronaviruses can have mutations in the target sequence, leading to false-negative results with PCR based detection approach

Cannot detect virus subtypes
Processed via machines in a single, central laboratory
Samples require supply change, refrigeration and biological functionalization
Expensive with many required steps; co-payments estimated at $50.00; full coronavirus tests cost ~$1,300 per sample
Requires transportation to centralized clinical laboratories, which can introduce errors from sampling handling and exposure from infected samples

ELECTRONIC TERAHERTZ SENSING POTENTIAL

Label-free and contactless electronic detection of mucus samples without the need for chemical or biological reagents

Does not require reagent substances to be mixed with patients’ saliva or mucus samples

Single step detection within minutes 

Does not require any genetic material extraction or sample transportation; can work directly on the swab sample

Does not require PCR and amplification sample

Uses no biological reagents for virus detection

Shows promise to detect or eliminate presence of virus in the first 24 hours of exposure as soon as the patient becomes contagious

Extremely specific and highly sensitive; could help eliminate false positives or false negatives due to reagent cross reactivity
Can detect virus subtypes, and can be tuned for mutations, which are estimated to happen every 10 days leading to false negatives

Can be processed instantaneously via a portable device

No supply chain needed. The sensing substrate is printed on glass or paper and doesn’t require refrigeration or biological functionalization

Ultra-low cost. Substrate is similar to cost of a glass slide
Does not require any laboratory testing or transportation

A Better Approach Than Lateral Flow Immunoassay

Lateral Flow Assay testing requires devices such as test strips to confirm the presence or absence of IgG and IgM antibodies to diagnose COVID-19 in a patient’s blood sample.

Lateral Flow Immunoassay Capabilities

More invasive for COVID-19, requiring a sample of capillary blood from patient
Require the presence of antibodies in the blood, which take up to 5 to 10 days to develop high enough concentration for detection
Can only test one patient at a time, with potential exposure to radiation
Qualitative results
Use antigens to bind to the antibodies, some of which have cross reactivity with other antibody binding sites, potentially producing errors such as false positives or false negatives
Use visual market and control line, and are not digital or integrated with digital infrastructure for easy patient tracking
Do not test for multiple different targets and cannot multiplex

ELECTRONIC TERAHERTZ SENSING POTENTIAL

Requires only a nasopharyngeal swab or throat culture
Would detect virus in patients with no symptoms or problems in organs
Could be deployed to test multiple patients in any location without radiation
Quantitative results
Does not require antigens or testing of antibodies, which eliminates false positives and false negatives
Digital
Can detect multiple targets at the same time

Detection Before CT Scans and Chest X-Rays

CT and X-Rays are only performed in specific, limited locations and require disease progression in order to help diagnose negative impact of COVID-19.

CT Scans or X-Rays Capabilities

Sensitivity ranges with 86%-97%
Only effective with sick patients presenting with visible problems
Can only test one patient at a time, with potential exposure to radiation
Requires highly expensive CT and X-Ray equipment
Requires regular cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces to prevent infection spread

ELECTRONIC TERAHERTZ SENSING POTENTIAL

Showed sensitivity of up to 99%4

Would detect virus in patients with no symptoms or problems in organs
Could be deployed to test multiple patients in any location without radiation

Could be deployed in cost-effective portable device and is easy to administer

Would limit exposure to infected patients via small sample

About RAM Global

We design and fabricate the most advanced compound semiconductor device sensors to power a new level of insight for a myriad of applications, including healthcare, defense, energy, agriculture and smart cities. Using advanced materials that far outperform traditional silicon and are less expensive and more durable, we have introduced the first Ultrafield sensing devices capable of detecting critical intrinsic interactions, multiple fields, and specific targets in a single chip, all with exponentially greater sensitivity than current sensors. Our chips are powered by our sensor device platform, which combine proprietary readout systems with the capability of integrating seamlessly with enhanced analytic packages using artificial intelligence and artificial general intelligence platforms.

An Innovator in Healthcare

We developed a clinically validated quantum Cardio-Respiratory Monitoring system (qCRM) to enable continuous, full-body monitoring of the entire cardio-respiratory system in a single, wearable device. Orders of magnitude more sensitive than traditional sensors and capable of digitizing the entire cardio-respiratory system and crucial vitals, qCRM has the power to transform the way human health is detected, analyzed and treated.

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Learn More About Ultrafield Sensing for the World’s Most Critical Applications

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