A new fast and easy point-of-care device for COVID testing.
Decreasing COVID transmission has proven difficult due to the inability to identify pre-symptomatic, symptomatic, and asymptomatic individuals. Medical communities around the world have spearheaded efforts to develop effective treatments, but proper COVID testing is needed to curb the spread. And we can use the experience of testing other forms of Covid to assist us in defining the methods to conduct proper COVID testing.
Current problems with available SARS-Cov-2 testing are inaccessibility, expensive costs, and lengthy result wait times. A group of researchers successfully developed a sensitive, accurate, and fast portable point-of-care device to test for SARS-Cov-2.
The current standard for SARS-Cov-2 testing is PCR. This technique measures the amount of DNA present in a sample through multiple costly steps and the use of specific laboratory equipment. Other test methods involve the use of CRISPR diagnostics. CRISPR was invented as a means to change an organism’s DNA. With this, scientists are able to target DNA sequences which can then be removed, changed, or added to other DNA. The researchers developed a new system called CRISPR-Cas13, which targets RNA instead of DNA.
The study was conducted to test the effectiveness of CRISPR-Cas13 and a smartphone-based detector system. The researchers created the CRISPR-Cas13 system such that when the Cas13 protein binds to RNA, it cuts the sequence and attaches a fluorescent probe capable of being detected by a smartphone camera. In this way, the researchers were able to tell exactly how much RNA virus was present and diagnose the set of pre-extracted patient RNA in just five minutes.
Eliminating the need to detect DNA puts the CRISPR-Cas13 system above other CRISPR and PCR test methods. It circumvents the need for costly equipment, trained laboratory personnel, and long wait times. More importantly, the test is sensitive to even the slightest amount of viral RNA present. Its results provide a quantitative measure (the number of viral particles) versus simply “positive” and “negative” results. Consequently, clinicians will be able to make better informed decisions regarding infectivity of patients. This type of COVID testing allows for better containment of viral transmission. Soon, you may find be able to say, “I can find covid testing near me!”
Written by Melody Sayrany
- CellPressNews. (n.d.). Researchers adapt cell phone camera for SARS-CoV-2 detection. Retrieved December 12, 2020, from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-12/cp-rac120420.php
- Fozouni, P., Son, S., Díaz de León Derby, M., Knott, G.J., Gray, C.N., D’Ambrosio, M.V., … Ott, M., Amplification-free detection of SARS- CoV-2 with CRISPR-Cas13a and mobile phone microscopy, Cell (2021), doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/ j.cell.2020.12.001.
Image by fernando zhiminaicela from Pixabay
Published at Fri, 18 Dec 2020 15:00:00 +0000