RT-LAMP test samples showing positive (yellow) and negative (pink) results. (Credit: Soo Khim Chan)

Rapid COVID-19 tests are on the rise to deliver results faster to more people, and scientists need an easy, foolproof way to know that these tests work correctly, and the results can be trusted. Nanoparticles that pass detection as the novel coronavirus could be just the ticket.

Such coronavirus-like nanoparticles would serve as something called a positive control for COVID-19 tests. Positive controls are samples that always test positive. They are run and analyzed right alongside patient samples to verify that COVID-19 tests are working consistently and as intended.

The positive controls offer several advantages over the ones currently used in COVID-19 testing: they do not need to be kept cold; they are easy to manufacture; they can be included in the entire testing process from start to finish, just like a patient sample; and because they are not actual virus samples from COVID-19 patients, they do not pose a risk of infection to the people running the tests.