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All-in-one Covid surveillance test

A new type of COVID-19 testing strategy could help streamline the process of identifying cases, tracking variants and detecting co-infecting viruses, it is claimed.

At present, separate assays and complex workflows are involved in each of these three diagnostic procedures, with analyses typically performed in highly specialised facilities.

Researchers have now combined all three kinds of tests into a single procedure that should allow for point-of-care tracking of COVID-19 and the many emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2.

Stem cell biologist Mo Li, who led the study, said: “Our all-in-one test provides a promising integrated solution for rapid field-deployable detection and mutational surveillance of pandemic viruses.”

The test involves a portable briefcase-sized mini-laboratory and uses recombinase polymerase amplification and a next-generation portable sequencer to quickly detect the presence of viral sequences and provide read-outs in up to 96 patient samples at a time.

Li’s team, in collaboration with researchers from Saudi Arabia, the US and Spain, designed the test to decode five segments of the SARS-CoV-2 genome, each chosen to help guide variant tracking.

They also incorporated assays for three common respiratory viruses that can cause symptoms similar to COVID-19.

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Image credit | 2021-Kaust_Ivan-Gromicho

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