In a breakthrough development in the continued fight against the rage of coronavirus of COVID-19, a research initiative led by scientists at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore have developed a crucial diagnostic test. Importantly, the diagnostic test can detect the virus of COVID-19 even after it undergoes mutations.
The test called VaNGuard makes use of a gene editing tool known as CRISPR. In fact, CRISPR is widely used in scientific research to change DNA sequences and alter gene function in human cells under lab conditions, and in recent years, for diagnostic applications.
Meanwhile, based on medical knowledge, it is known, viruses evolve over time. A diagnostic test that can withstand potential mutations is thus a crucial tool for tracking and combating the pandemic. In the course of COVID-19 pandemic so far, thousands of variants of the virus that causes the disease have arisen, including some that have spread widely across South Africa, Brazil, and the United Kingdom.
However, according to speculations, the genetic sequence variations in some new strains of the virus may inhibit the ability of some diagnostic tests to discover the virus, stated the lead researcher of the study.
Importantly, VaNGuard features some notable capabilities. The diagnostic test can detect the virus of COVID-19 even when it mutates, and it can be used on crude patient samples in clinical settings without the need for RNA purification, with result of the test in 30 minutes. Notably, the time required by VaNGuard is one-third of what is required for polymerase chain reaction – the gold standard for COVID-19 testing – which requires RNA purification in the lab facility.