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Fast track Isothermal Viral Diagnostics
COVID-19 Research Area(s): Diagnostics, Genomics & Transmission Dynamics, Epidemiology & Public Health
The Unrau laboratory at Simon Fraser University has engineered an isothermal RNA detection kit that reports the presence of RNA template by fluorogenic aptamer (RNA Mango) synthesis in a simple fluorogenic assay (Mango NASBA). This technology, which currently is being commercialised for the detection of pathogens in human tissue culture, can be rapidly adapted for the detection of SARS-CoV_2 and offers several advantages over conventional RT-PCR: 1. Isothermal Mango NASBA viral testing has a considerably simpler work flow than RT-PCR requiring only a simple fixed temperature device capable of detecting fluorescent readout. This offers the potential to implement real time viral testing at venues (i.e. airports, borders, hospitals etc) not normally considered with existing RT-PCR methodologies and that require more costly real-time thermocycler infrastructure to implement. 2. We anticipate that Mango NASBA offers a significant time saving of ~3-4 fold relative to a standard RT-PCR assay (90-120 min) in high viral load samples. Should high sensitivity detection be required, Nested Mango NASBA can be performed subsequently. Nested Mango NASBA has sensitivity directly comparable to RT-PCR and can be performed twice as fast as RT-PCR methodologies.