New, faster cell therapy monitoring method accurately detects coronavirus

June 9, 2021
New, faster cell therapy monitoring method accurately detects coronavirus

A new method for rapid and accurate detection of different DNA/RNA targets in viruses like the coronavirus has been developed by CAMP researchers, part of an interdisciplinary group at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART). The Rapid Digital CRISPR Approach (RADICA) method has been tested on SARS-CoV-2 synthetic DNA/RNA in patient calls and serum, and can be adapted to detect other kinds of viruses in samples including saliva and cell culture media. RADICA is also able to distinguish a virus from its close relatives.

RADICA allows absolute quantification of viral nucleic acids in under an hour, using a prototypical and inexpensive laboratory equipment, compared to standard viral detection testing. While digital polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, for example, may allow for setting clear thresholds for virus contamination it requires a long reaction time of up to four hours, expensive equipment and precise temperature control; this method is still susceptible to potential fluctuations.

“This is the first reported method of detecting nucleic acids to utilise the sensitivity of isothermal amplification and specificity of CRISPR based detection in a digital format – allowing rapid and specific amplification of DNA without the time consuming and costly need for thermal cycling,” says Dr. Xiaolin Wu, Postdoctoral Associate at SMART CAMP.

“RADICA offers four times faster absolute quantification compared to conventional digital PCR methods.” Dr. Wu said the method can be adapted to devices commonly found in hospitals and service laboratories – providing a potential new way to tackle future pandemics or the next dangerous pathogen.

Meanwhile, Professor Tim Lu, CAMP Principal Investigator and Associate Professor of Biological Engineering and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, also said that RADICA is faster, cheaper and more efficient than what is used today and its digital format makes it more tolerant to contamination or inhibitors that may be present in biological samples – often the case with cell therapy products.

Professor Lu adds that on top of detecting the presence of a target virus, RADICA also identifies how many viruses there are in the sample which can help doctors and researchers in deciding the course of treatment, as well as production and inventory management of cell therapy products.

Category: Features, Technology & Devices

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