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Diagnostics COVID-19, Biochemistry and molecular biology, Technology and innovation

Accessible Assays for COVID-19

A common approach to COVID-19 containment is the use of point-of-need testing, which allows communities to scale up testing when infection rates are high or new variants are detected. For many areas, however, this is easier said than done – especially those with fewer resources. To address this gap, a new study examined two recombinase-based isothermal techniques for SARS-CoV-2 detection (1). Because these methods don’t require expensive equipment or reagents (such as thermostable enzymes), they are much more suitable for use in resource-limited settings than other assays.

The two assays, reverse transcription recombinase polymerase amplification (RT-RPA) and reverse transcription recombinase-aided amplification (RT-RAA) evidenced similar diagnostic accuracy levels, with sensitivities of about 76 percent against target genes RdRP and ORF1ab and specificities of 94 to 98 percent. Combining N and RdRP targets in RT-RPA increased the assay’s sensitivity to about 85 percent – a promising start for more widely accessible COVID-19 testing.

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  1. P Ghosh et al., Int J Infect Dis, [Online ahead of print] (2021). PMID: 34758392.
About the Author
Michael Schubert

While obtaining degrees in biology from the University of Alberta and biochemistry from Penn State College of Medicine, I worked as a freelance science and medical writer. I was able to hone my skills in research, presentation and scientific writing by assembling grants and journal articles, speaking at international conferences, and consulting on topics ranging from medical education to comic book science. As much as I’ve enjoyed designing new bacteria and plausible superheroes, though, I’m more pleased than ever to be at Texere, using my writing and editing skills to create great content for a professional audience.

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