Understand differences between PCR, rapid test and Cube Scan, solution in development in Radiolife

Understand differences between PCR, rapid test and Cube Scan, solution in development in Radiolife

Entenda diferenças entre PCR, teste rápido e o Cube Scan, solução em desenvolvimento na Radiolife

Since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic, health authorities and researchers emphasize the importance of testing as a tool to control the spread of the new coronavirus. Identifying the virus early and isolating the patient can avoid contacts and transmission to other people. The asymptomatic, for example, can transmit the disease without even knowing they are infected. 

The test considered the "gold standard" by health authorities is the molecular test or Reverse Transcription Followed by Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR). Emergently, rapid tests have also emerged, which can be performed in pharmacies, clinics and drugstores. These tests indicate that the person was infected with the virus at some point in the past. It means, according to experts, that its main function is to show how the population is exposed to the virus, not to diagnose the disease.

Cube Scan, equipment under development at Radiolife for diagnosis of Covid-19, uses different technology from rapid and molecular tests. The Radiolife solution is faster and does not use reagents. Currently, the company is preparing the documentation for the authorization process with the competent authorities, such as the Anvisa and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Check below the main differences between the methods.


Cube Scan can perform diagnostic testing for Covid-19 using either a saliva sample or a swab, which is inserted into the patient's nose and throat. The collection of samples for RT-PCR occurs exclusively through the swab. In the case of rapid tests, there are options that use saliva sample and others, blood sample. 


With Cube Scan, no reagents or chemical processes are required. No additional equipment is needed for sample analysis either. Simply insert the tube into the equipment and press a button. If approved by regulatory agencies, Cube Scan also does not require a controlled environment, and can be used in locations such as schools, airports, stadiums, movie theaters, and events in general. RT-PCR uses reagents and the sample needs to be centrifuged, filtered and processed in a laboratory environment with specific equipment. The rapid test is done with a kit that has reagents, but does not require laboratory environment.

Date of examination

The purpose of the Cube Scan is mass testing, performed frequently. Therefore, it would not be used only in symptomatic cases. The idea is that the test is done before entering an enclosed space, contributing to the creation of a testing habit. In the RT-PCR, the detection of the new coronavirus occurs, on average, from the third day of the beggining of symptoms. In the case of rapid test, it is indicated the realization after the seventh day of the disease.


The sample processing time in Cube Scan is about 10 seconds. In the case of the rapid test, it is necessary to wait about 20 minutes. The RT-PCR takes two hours to process, but as it can only be done in laboratory environments, there is a volume of tests and establishments ask for an average deadline of 24 to 48 hours for the result. 


The Cube Scan uses radio frequency. The equipment is tuned to resonate with virus RNA and proteins associated with the disease. The Cube Scan emits radio waves, which hit the sample and if they resonate, the result is positive. If they do not resonate, it is negative. The RT-PCR uses chemical reactions based on photoluminescence (in short, the sample changes color when in contact with reagents, indicating the result). The rapid test follows the same principle as the PCR, but is less sensitive.

Learn more about Cube Scan: https://radiolife.co/products/cube-scan/

With information from Fiocruz*.

* Sources: https://portal.fiocruz.br/noticia/pesquisador-fala-sobre-testes-nas-diversas-fases-da-pandemia 



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