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Chinese COVID-19 Diagnostic Test Delivers Accurate Results in 40 Minutes Without Instrument for Less Than 70 Cents

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 31 Aug 2020
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Chinese researchers have developed a rapid CRISPR-based diagnostic for COVID-19 that delivers accurate results without the need for sophisticated equipment.

Researchers from the Xuzhou Medical University (Xuzhou, Jiangsu, China) harnessed the unique collateral activity of programmable CRISPR/Cas13a to develop CRISPR-COVID, a rapid and sensitive diagnostic for SARS-CoV-2 infection, and compared it to sequencing-based metagenomic and RT-PCR-based assays in a clinical cohort. CRISPR-COVID demonstrated a sensitivity level of near single copy and was highly specific without cross reacting to related pathogens. According to researchers, their study demonstrated that their CRISPR-based assay for COVID-19 offered shorter turn-around time and great diagnostic value, even in under-resourced settings without the need of thermal cyclers.

CRISPR-COVID takes only 40 minutes and requires no sophisticated thermo-cyclers, providing a valuable alternative to the conventional RT–PCR assay to circumvent the bottlenecks in assay turnaround time, equipment and reagent supplies for COVID-19 testing. The team noted that at research scale, the material costs of a CRISPR-COVID were less than USD 3.5, which could be dramatically reduced at production scale to less than 70 cents, making CRISPR-COVID a competitive alternative not only technologically but also financially.

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