- Scientists have developed a novel technology for a COVID-19 diagnostic test that uses a smartphone camera
- Not only a positive or negative result, but the diagnostic test can also measure the viral load
- The diagnostic test uses CRISPR to directly detect viral RNA
Scientists have recently developed a new novel technology for a CRISPR-based COVID-19 diagnostic test, that can be done using a smartphone camera. The test will provide accurate results within half an hour, claimed the scientists. As per the research published in the journal Cell, “the new diagnostic test can not only generate a positive or negative result, it also measures the viral load, the concentration of virus, in a given sample”.
According to the researchers, all the CRISPR diagnostics till now, have required the viral RNA to be converted to DNA and get amplified before its detection, adding time and complexity. The new approach contradictorily skips all the conversion and amplification steps, using CRISPR to directly detect the viral RNA.
“One reason we are excited about CRISPR-based diagnostics is the potential for quick, accurate results at the point of need”, stated Jennifer Doudna, a senior investigator at Gladstone Institutes in the US. Doudna further added, “This is especially helpful in places with limited access to testing, or when frequent, rapid testing is needed. It could eliminate a lot of the bottlenecks we’ve seen with COVID-19.”
A nasal swab of the patient will be considered as a sample, which will be placed in a device that attaches to a smartphone. In case the sample contains RNA from SARS-CoC-2, the device will emit a fluorescent signal. The smartphone camera, converted into a microscope for that time being, would detect the fluorescence and report that the swab is tested positive for the virus.