Development of Mobile PCR Tests

FAST-MoPPs Project: Virtual Design Optimization of System and Cartridge Components for Ultra-Fast and Sensitive PCR On-Site Detection.

Laboratory-based PCR tests are the most reliable method for detecting pandemic virus infections such as Covid-19. However, these test systems cannot be used close to people and their use is therefore time-consuming. They must be developed individually for the virus in question, making them costly to use.


Virtual Development of an Optimal Test Design

In the FAST-MoPPs project, we are working with the Fraunhofer Institute for Microengineering and Microsystems IMM to develop the best possible design for a mobile PCR test. The design process includes the selection of suitable materials and the determination of appropriate geometry and process parameters. The design should enable cost-effective production of the test, allow mass deployment at the point of care, and ensure meaningful test results. This means that the tests do not have to be taken to a central laboratory, but are used and evaluated in the hospital directly on the ward, in the practice or pharmacy.

Mathematical Simulation and Systematic Parameter Variation

The design process is based on a virtual simulation of the underlying physical and biochemical processes. The testing process starts with the preparation of the sample to be tested in reverse transcription to obtain viral DNA. For this preparation, we develop mathematical process models based on the central mixing and reaction processes. In the subsequent amplification (multiplication of DNA segments), this DNA is analyzed in several cycles. 

Concept of the Project FAST-MoPPs
© freepik / Fraunhofer ITWM
Concept of the Project FAST-MoPPs

At the end, there is a test result in the form of a sample staining. For this step, we primarily simulate the transport and heating of the sample in the test device virtually. The processes depend centrally on the material selection for the test device and its geometric design, as well as the design of the test procedure. Optimal values for the underlying design parameters are determined by means of targeted variation.

Project Partner

Fraunhofer Institute for Microengineering and Microsystems IMM

Project Funding

The project, which started on 1.7.2022, is funded by the EFRE-REACT program Rhineland-Palatinate. With the REACT-EU program, the European Union has set up a recovery assistance program to mitigate the economic and social consequences of the Covid19 pandemic in Europe. REACT-EU stands for Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe.