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rss 04-18-2020 03:30 AM

CRISPR-Based Test to Diagnose COVID-19 in Less than One Hour
CRISPR-Based Test to Diagnose COVID-19 in Less than One Hour Transmission electron micrograph of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Image credit: NIAID
With the COVID-19 pandemic growing globally, new ways of detecting the infection is the need of the hour. University of California, San Francisco researchers have recently published a paper in Nature Biotechnology outlining their approach to diagnose COVID-19 infections from respiratory swabs using CRISPR.

The test, called the SARS-CoV2 DETECTR assay, checks for the presence of two specific regions in the novel coronavirus – one is found in all ‘SARS-like’ coronaviruses and one is unique to SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. This helps to differentiate COVID-19 infections from similar infections caused by other coronaviruses.

The assay is currently being validated in a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certified microbiology laboratory as per guidelines from the FDA.
As one of the first tests to use CRISPR gene-targeting to detect the novel coronavirus, this technology offers several benefits over current qRT-PCR testing. PCR (polymerase chain reaction) is a specialized, expensive technique that can only be performed in well-equipped labs. The DETECTR assay, on the other hand, can be performed in any lab with off-the-shelf reagents and common equipment, making it a more cost-effective and widely available solution.

Another key advantage of the DETECTR assay is the

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