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Subspecialties Microbiology and immunology, COVID-19, Point of care testing, Technology and innovation

Quick Hits: SARS-CoV-2 Edition

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Captain MARVE

A simple, paper-based assay – named MARVE – promises rapid colorimetric detection of SARS-CoV-2 variants (1). By using a nucleic acid strand displacement process, the assay can recognize and distinguish viral RNA mutations. The new tool represents a potential solution for the lack of scalable diagnostic tools for SARS-CoV-2 variants, which has previously hindered surveillance of mutational evolution.

Sewage science

Scientists have called for wastewater surveillance to spearhead epidemiological monitoring of infectious pathogens (2). They argue that wastewater testing provides a valuable population-level view of disease, shows promise in detecting antimicrobial-resistant strains, and can fill the gap where current diagnostic tests fall short.

In other wastewater news…

Researchers have tested the effectiveness of a new wastewater surveillance method for monitoring spatiotemporal viral dynamics (3). By deep sequencing 3,413 samples across Austria, the method was able to robustly deduct relative SARS-CoV-2 variant frequencies with high spatiotemporal resolution and reduced sample numbers and logistical effort.

Spitting distance

Researchers have developed an RNA-extraction-free test for rapidly detecting SARS-CoV-2 in saliva via Cas13 (4). When validated against qPCR nasal-swab samples, the test achieved 94 percent sensitivity and 100 percent specificity. Rapid point-of-care RNA testing could broaden the use of SARS-CoV-2 molecular diagnostics.

Golden chips

A dual method for detecting SARS-CoV-2 RNA and anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in saliva and blood plasma has been developed using an electrochemical lab-on-a-chip platform (5). The user-friendly device can identify SARS-CoV-2 RNA and relevant antibodies in clinically relevant quantities, and could one day help quickly and easily monitor both infection and immune status of COVID-19 patients.

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  1. T Zhang et al., Nat Biomed Eng, 6, 957 (2022). PMID: 35835993.
  2. MB Diamond et al., Nat Med, [Online ahead of print] (2022). PMID: 36076085.
  3. F Amman et al., Nat Biotechnol, [Online ahead of print] (2022). PMID: 35851376.
  4. SS Chandrasekaran et al., Nat Biomed Eng, 6, 944 (2022). PMID: 35953650.
  5. D Najjar et al., Nat Biomed Eng, 6, 968 (2022). PMID: 35941191.
About the Author
Georgia Hulme

Associate Editor for the Pathologist

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