Researchers at the University of Connecticut's Department of Biomedical Engineering are working to develop a new, low-cost, CRISPR-based diagnostic platform to detect infectious diseases, including the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

Associate Professor Changchun Liu developed the "All-In-One-Dual CRISPR-Cas12a" (AIOD-CRISPR) method to enable simple, rapid, ultrasensitive, visual detection of SARS-CoV-2 and HIV viruses, intended for use at home or in small clinics.

 

"The recent outbreak of novel coronavirus has spread rapidly all over the world," Liu says. "Rapid and early detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus​ will facilitate early intervention and reduce disease transmission risk. Our method has great potential for developing next-generation point-of-care molecular diagnostics."

 

While the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method is currently considered the "gold standard" for disease diagnostics, it relies on expensive equipment and well-trained personnel. Liu's method, unlike the PCR, is isothermic (~37°C), and unlike other isothermal amplification technologies, it has better sensitivity and specificity. In Liu's lab, the AIOD-CRISPR system successfully detected the DNA and RNA of SARS-CoV-2 and HIV. Additionally, the method was evaluated by detecting HIV-1 RNA extracted from human plasma samples, achieving comparable results to the PCR method.

 

For more details, read UConn Today. The manuscript for their study is available on the BioRxiv preprint platform.