In a breakthrough development, two CRISPR enzymes identified for diagnostic of COVID-19 in only 20 minutes. In fact, rapid testing of COVID-19 is crucial to detect the spread of disease outbreaks as more contagious variants emerge.
While, the current gold standard for COVID-19 testing, which uses qRT-PCR is extremely sensitive, it requires specialized equipment. For detection of even copy of RNA per microliter, the runtime is of several hours and a centralized laboratory facility. As such, the testing time is typically one to two days.
For an improved testing solution, a research team at the University of California is aiming to develop a diagnostic test much faster and easier to bring into use than qRT-PCR.
Elaborately, the test combines two different types of CRISPR enzymes to fabricate an assay that can identify small amounts of viral RNA within one hour.
While the method is far behind to be at par with the sensitivity of qRT-PCR, which can identify only a small number of the virus per microliter of the liquid – it is already increasing in intensity for levels of viral RNA. This is about 30 copies per microliter which is adequate to be used monitor the population and contain the spread of infections.
Importantly, for efforts to develop rapid tests to detect COVID-19, the sensitivity close to PCR to catch and detect is not really required. The convenience of the test and fast results for community is mainly what is required. To drive the biochemistry as much to the point where a very convenient format could be imagined in a setting where the test could be performed every day is the objective of researchers.