Rapid, Portable COVID-19 Test Could Help Track Variants

A brand new viral screening check couldn’t solely diagnose COVID-19 in a matter of minutes, however new analysis suggests it may concurrently check for different viruses that may be mistaken for COVID-19, in response to the examine authors. As well as, the check can sequence the virus, offering data on the unfold of COVID-19 variants.

The check, referred to as nanopore sequencing of isothermal speedy viral amplification for close to real-time evaluation (NIRVANA), was described by a workforce of researchers within the journal Med. Based on a press launch, one of many check’s main advantages is its small, pocket-sized portability.

“It is a virus detection and surveillance technique that doesn’t require an costly infrastructure like different approaches,” stated co-corresponding writer Juan Carlos Izpisua, within the press launch. “We will accomplish with 1 moveable check the identical factor that others are utilizing 2 or three completely different checks, with completely different machines, to do.”

The present customary method for COVID-19 testing is to make use of a nasal swab and run a polymerase chain response (PCR) check to detect genetic materials from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. If the pattern is detrimental, nevertheless, the researchers stated clinicians haven’t any data on what might be inflicting the affected person’s signs, until they run separate PCR checks for different viruses. Then again, if the pattern is constructive for SARS-CoV-2, clinicians nonetheless have no idea which COVID-19 variant a affected person is contaminated with.

To deal with these issues, researchers at King Abdullah College of Science and Expertise in Saudi Arabia developed an isothermal recombinase polymerase amplification (RPA) testing method and mixed it with real-time nanopore sequencing. The ensuing check is quicker, cheaper, and extra moveable than the present COVID-19 testing method, in response to the press launch.

Not like PCR checks, which cycle by decrease and better temperatures to separate DNA strands and duplicate them, RPA makes use of proteins to perform the identical factor in simply 20 minutes. The know-how permits researchers to repeat longer stretches of DNA and probe for a number of genes on the similar time.

“We shortly realized that we may use this method to not solely detect SARS-CoV-2, however different viruses on the similar time,” stated developer Mo Li, an assistant professor of bioscience at King Abdullah College of Science and Expertise, in a press launch.

The investigators designed NIRVANA to concurrently check samples for COVID-19, influenza A, human adenovirus, and non-SARS-CoV-2 human coronavirus, in response to the press launch. Of their article, the researchers stated the machine begins to report constructive and detrimental ends in simply 15 minutes, and it finalized outcomes on all 96 samples inside three hours. This consists of the sequencing of 5 areas of SARS-CoV-2 which are notably susceptible to accumulate mutations resulting in new variants, in response to the press launch.

Researchers examined NIRVANA on 10 samples identified to be constructive for SARS-CoV-2, 60 samples of unknown SARS-CoV-2 standing, and samples of municipal wastewater harboring the SARS-CoV-2 virus and others. In all instances, the assay accurately recognized which viruses had been current, in response to the press launch. The info additionally allowed the investigators to slender down the origin of SARS-CoV-2 in constructive samples, akin to differentiating strains from China and Europe.

“The design of this assay is admittedly versatile, so it’s not simply restricted to the examples we’ve proven,” Li stated within the press launch. “We will simply adapt it to deal with one other pathogen, even one thing new and emergent.”

Based mostly on their findings and contemplating the small dimension and portability of the check, the investigators stated it might be used for quick virus detection in colleges, airports, or ports, and it may be used to observe wastewater or streams for the presence of recent viruses.

“The pandemic has supplied 2 necessary classes: first, check extensively and shortly, and second, know your variants,” defined Izpisua Belmonte, a researcher at Salk, within the press launch. “Our NIRVANA technique offers a promising answer to those 2 challenges not just for the present pandemic, but in addition for doable future ones.”


Quick, Moveable Take a look at Can Diagnose COVID-19 and Monitor Variants [news release]. Salk; March 31, 2021. https://www.salk.edu/news-release/fast-portable-test-can-diagnose-covid-19-and-track-variants/. Accessed April 5, 2021.

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