Scientists say they have developed a new, portable test that can detect the coronavirus in just minutes and even determine if it is a highly contagious variant.
The assay was developed by the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California and is called NIRVANA (nanopore sequencing of isothermal rapid viral amplification for near real-time analysis).
The laptop-sized computer can diagnose COVID-19 in 15 minutes and simultaneously test for other viruses with similar symptoms such as the flu.
It can also perform genetic sequencing in just three hours to determine if the virus is a mutation – such as those first seen in the UK and South Africa – which could help public health experts determine how quickly the virus is spreading.
<img id="i-79ebfd5254ba7c65" src="https://whatsnew2day.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Portable-test-can-diagnose-COVID-19-in-just-15-minutes-and.jpg" height="413" width="634" alt="The new test, called NIRVANA
The new test, called NIRVANA, can also perform genetic sequencing in just three hours to determine if a coronavirus sample is linked to highly contagious variants
It can diagnose COVID-19 in 15 minutes (left) and simultaneously test for other viruses with similar symptoms such as flu (right)
“This is a virus detection and surveillance method that doesn’t require expensive infrastructure like other approaches,” said co-correspondent Dr. Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a professor in Salk’s Gene Expression Laboratory, in a statement. press release
“We can achieve the same thing with one portable test as others with two or three different tests, with different machines, to do.”
Currently, the process for testing patients for COVID-19 includes a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test – considered the gold standard of testing – that searches for the genetic material of the virus.
If the test is negative, the patient will not know what is causing his or her symptoms unless other PCR tests are performed for different viruses.
But if the test is positive, the patient will not know if the virus is one of the highly contagious variants unless it is sent to another lab, which can take days for the genetic sequencing results to be returned.
In addition, there are federal rules that dictate what information college labs can report to and to whom, meaning health officials’ counties don’t even know which counties have fallen in states.
Testing is only performed by certain laboratories that are not required to tell patients or doctors their results.
Researchers at the Salk Institute said they wondered if there was a faster, cheaper, and easier way to test for COVID-19.
They decided to use a technology called isothermal recombinase polymerase amplification (RPA).
PCR tests alternate between high and low temperatures to separate DNA and locate viral genetic material, but RPA uses proteins to do the same thing much faster.
“ We soon realized that we could use this technique to detect not only SARS-CoV-2, but other viruses at the same time, ” said co-corresponding author Dr. Mo Li, an assistant professor of life sciences at King Abdullah University. of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and a former postdoctoral fellow from Salk.
Li and Izpisua Belmonte designed NIRVANA to test for COVID-19 and for influenza A, human adenovirus and other coronaviruses.
They say the test will produce positive or negative results in 15 minutes. They add that the machine can reveal within three hours if the hold is linked to a variant, such as the UK variant, B.1.1.7, which is spreading across the US.
To test their machine, with results published in the journal With, the researchers had NIRVANA run 70 samples, including 10 known to be positive for COVID-19 and 60 of unknown status.
In all cases, the machine correctly identified which viruses were present and if it was positive for the novel coronavirus, the test limited it to the correct strain.
Li and Izpisua Belmonte say the machine can test 96 samples at a time and, due to its small size, can be used to detect the virus in schools or airports.
“The pandemic has provided two important lessons: first, testing broadly and quickly, and second, knowing your variants,” said Izpisua Belmonte.
“Our NIRVANA method offers a promising solution to these two challenges, not only for the current pandemic, but also for possible future ones.”