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New point-of-care COVID-19 test can differentiate alpha variant from earlier SARS-CoV-2 strains

A point-of-care COVID-19 test developed by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign can now detect and differentiate the alpha variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus…

Wednesday, Apr 20

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A point-of-care COVID-19 test developed by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign can now detect and differentiate the alpha variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from earlier strains in saliva samples.

The new test builds on the group’s previous developments, which allowed samples to bypass the laboratory – first using nasopharyngeal swabs, then with saliva samples. The point-of-care amplification and testing process, called LAMP, is more efficient than PCR because it does not require expensive thermal cycling machines. The researchers said the assay does not need RNA extraction and purification steps, similar to the Illinois saliva test.

The results of the study, co-led by Rashid Bashir, a professor of bioengineering and the dean of the Grainger College of Engineering at Illinois, mechanical science and engineering professor Bill King and bioengineering professor Enrique Valera, are published in the journal Lab on a Chip . Our study shows that it is possible to test for variants of the same coronavirus strain in a single point-of-care test that takes 30 minutes using a portable handheld device. The new test is scalable to suit future pandemics, COVID-19 or otherwise, and could be used at home or other settings ." Rashid Bashir, Professor of Bioengineering and Dean of Grainger College of Engineering, University of iIllinois at Urbana-Champaign The updated process takes advantage of a genetic phenomenon called S-gene target failure – which is present in the alpha variant but not in the SARS-CoV-2 virus early strains – to differentiate between the two alpha variants, the researchers […]

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