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New Simple, Portable and Easy-To-Use Technology Diagnoses COVID-19 Infection in Just 30 Minutes

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 22 Oct 2020
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Image: The POSTECH researchers designed the test kit to produce nucleic acid binding reaction to show fluorescence only when COVID-19 RNA is present (Photo courtesy of POSTECH)
Image: The POSTECH researchers designed the test kit to produce nucleic acid binding reaction to show fluorescence only when COVID-19 RNA is present (Photo courtesy of POSTECH)
A new one-pot diagnostic method for detecting pathogenic RNAs with PCR-level sensitivity allows anyone to easily and quickly diagnose COVID-19 in just 30 minutes.

A joint research team from Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH Gyeongbuk, Korea) has developed a SENSR (SENsitive Splint-based one-pot isothermal RNA detection) technology that allows anyone to easily and quickly diagnose COVID-19 based on the RNA sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The technology can diagnose infections in just 30 minutes, reducing the stress on one single testing location and avoiding contact with infected patients as much as possible. The biggest benefit is that a diagnostic kit can be developed within week even if a new infectious disease appears other than COVID-19.

The POSTECH researchers designed the test kit to produce nucleic acid binding reaction to show fluorescence only when COVID-19 RNA is present. Therefore, the virus can be detected immediately without any preparation process with high sensitivity in a short time. And it is as accurate as the current PCR diagnostic method. Using this technology, the research team found the SARS-CoV-2 virus RNA from an actual patient sample in about 30 minutes. In addition, five pathogenic viruses and bacterial RNAs were detected, proving the kit’s usability in detecting pathogens other than COVID-19. Another great advantage of the SENSR technology is the ease of creating the diagnostic device that can be developed into a simple portable and easy-to-use form. The method not only allows onsite diagnosis before going to the screening clinic or being hospitalized, but also enables a more proactive response to COVID-19 by supplementing the current centralized diagnostic system.

“This method is a fast and simple diagnostic technology which can accurately analyze the RNA without having to treat a patient’s sample,” said Professor Jeong Wook Lee of the Department of Chemical Engineering at POSTECH. “We can better prepare for future epidemics as we can design and produce a diagnostic kit for new infectious diseases within a week”.

“The fact that pathogenic RNAs can be detected with high accuracy and sensitivity, and that it can be diagnosed on the spot is drawing attention from academia as well as industry circles,” added Wook Lee. “We hope to contribute to our response to COVID-19 by enhancing the current testing system.”

Related Links:
Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH)


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