As we make our way through the third year of the global pandemic, one thing is abundantly clear, COVID testing is just as important now as it was in the beginning. But not all testing is created equal. PCR is highly sensitive; however, it requires well-trained personnel and expensive equipment, prohibiting home use and limiting use in areas with limited medical resources. Antigen testing is rapid and much more convenient, but it has low sensitivity and can give false negative results, particularly with patients early in their infection and with low viral loads.
Researchers at the Biodesign Institute of Arizona State University, developed novel tools for detecting viral pathogens in colorimetric paper-based diagnostic assays. These tools exploit single stranded RNA nanostructures to accurately identify viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza, from clinical saliva samples in a single paper-based readout reaction. The use of these tools for viral pathogen testing provide powerful sequence-independent molecular sensing at unprecedented sensitivity and specificity. These tools were tested on a set of positive and negative saliva samples and demonstrated accurate identification of SARS-CoV-2. They were also applied to differentiate influenza A subtypes and were able to distinguish H1N1, H5N1 and H1N2 from closely related virus subtypes.
These tools allow for visual readout and detection of viral pathogens with greater accuracy, reduced complexity and lower costs.
Benefits and Advantages
The assay was able to detect each of the samples correctly with a 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity
Clear color change observed, by the naked eye, in the presence of the correct viral RNAs
Reduces false positives
Decreased assay complexity and cost
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