Breakthrough in COVID-19 Diagnostics Market: Researchers Design a New Device that can Detect Variants linked to SARS-CoV-2

Posted On September 17, 2021     

The coronavirus pandemic presents no signs of diminishing and, in fact, keeps coming in waves taking hundreds of lives. The hardest part of fighting against the virus is that it keeps mutating. The new variants cannot be easily detected as the technology to test their needs to constantly evolve with new strains, something which hasn’t been achieved so far.
 
Now, a research team might have solved the problem by developing a small table-top device that has the capability to detect SARS-COV-2 only through a saliva sample. The study demonstrated that the diagnostic is as precise as the PCR tests currently being used. The device may boost the COVID-19 Diagnostics Market as it can also be used to identify particular viral mutations like SARS-CoV-2 variants that are circulating the world right now. Furthermore, the results only take an hour, denoting that it would be far easier to track all the different variants of the virus. The technology would also be beneficial in regions that cannot get access to genetic sequencing techniques.
 
The team showed that the new platform could be programmed to identify the new variants that are constantly emerging and could also be repurposed rather quickly. The new diagnostic is dependent on CRISPR technology and can be assembled for a total of $15; however, the team revealed that the cost would go down considerably once the device is produced by the manufacturers at an industrial scale.
 
The latest device is based on SHERLOCK (a CRISPER-based tool). The system is comprised of an RNA guide strand responsible for detecting specific target RNA sequencing. In addition, it also includes Cas enzymes that cleave through the sequences producing a fluorescent signal as a result. All these molecular components have the ability to get freeze-dried for a long duration and then reactivated exposure to water. 
The researchers primarily tested their device on human saliva consisting of SARS-CoV-2 RNA sequences. Thereafter, they tested it against 50 samples acquired from patients that have tested positive for COVID-19. The team discovered that the device and the gold standard PCR test both were equally accurate.
 
The team has the view that the new technology can be produced at as low as $2 or $3 per device. They predict the device to be immensely useful for people who want to test themselves at home. Moreover, it would also be beneficial for those health care centers that exist in areas where widespread access to PCR testing is impossible.
 
The need to detect and track all the variants is critical to ensure public health, but till now, they could only be detected through nucleic acid sequencing present in some scarce specialized epidemiological centers. Thus, the new device might change the current world scenario with the fight against variants as it promises affordability ad feasibility.

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