CRISPR-based diagnostic Chips perform very large number of tests simultaneously to detect Viruses


In a new development for virus detection, a new technology developed that flexibly scales up CRISPR-based molecular diagnostics. The technology employs microfluidic chips that can run thousands of tests simultaneously.

The capacity of the chip used in the technology is magnanimous. It ranges from detecting a single type of virus in above 1,000 samples at one time, to examining a small number of samples for more than 160 different viruses, which includes covid-19 virus.

The technology called Combinatorial Arrayed Reactions for Multiplexed Evaluation of Nucleic Acids – validated on patient samples provides results the same day. To the extent, the technology has potential to be harnessed some day for large public health efforts.

The details of the technology are available in Nature. The work is an effort of experts at some world-renowned academic institutions.

Amidst COVID-19, Need for rapid Diagnostic Tools Underscored

“Meanwhile, in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, need for rapid and sensitive tools underscored for diagnosis, surveillance, and characterization of an infection within a population,” stated one of the co-authors of the study. The need for innovative technologies that can applied for communities broadly has never been so urgent.

CRISPR-based diagnostics is an attractive technology for ease of use, programmability, and sensitivity. And, with a way to scale up diagnostics, the potential for comprehensive approaches can be explored. For example – it enables clinicians to see if patients are harboring multiple infections, to quickly eliminate the possibility of whole panel of diseases, or to test a large population for serious infection.

To fulfill the need, to build a testing platform of this capacity, the team turned to microfluidics, with adapting and improvement of technology developed by Blainey’s lab in 2018.

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