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A fast, accurate, low-cost Covid-19 test kit developed by China

By Jahanbee Gupta

A new low-cost diagnostic test kit for Covid-19 has been developed by Chinese researchers which quickly delivers accurate results without the need for sophisticated equipment.

The study authors from Xuzhou Medical University in China wrote in a paper published in the journal PLOS Pathogens that they developed an isothermal, CRISPR-based diagnostic with single-copy sensitivity. They demonstrated a CRISPR-based assay for Covid-19 which offers shorter turn-around time and great diagnostic value, even in under-resourced settings without the need for thermal cyclers. The surging demand for identification and rapid screening of Covid-19 poses great diagnostic challenges. Reverse-transcription-PCR(RT-PCR) next-generation sequencing (NGS) and metagenomic reverse-transcription PCR (RT-PCR) has been the most commonly used molecular methods for diagnosing Covid-19, but each has its limitations.

RT-PCR requires specialized equipment and is difficult to deploy at a large scale while sequencing is costly and has a turnaround time of nearly one day. A lack of rapid and accurate molecular diagnostic tools has hampered efficient public health responses to the viral threat says, researchers. The researchers developed an alternative Covid-19 test by leveraging CRISPR-based technology in their new research, which has been widely used in recent years for gene editing. Comparable sensitivity and specificity as NGS within as short as 40 minutes,reverse-transcription PCR (RT-PCR) is delivered by CRISPR-COVID.

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