With COVID-19 raging all over the world since its detection in China in December 2019, researchers around the globe have tried to discover new ways to detect the SARS CoV-2 virus responsible for the disease. Experts say that in the absence of a silver bullet in the near future, mass and automated testing is the only way out of this quagmire. Testing helps by identifying those patients that should be isolated and can also lead to others who might have come into contact with those patients.

Testing of viral load in samples mainly involves the use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR), in particular RT (reverse transcriptase)-PCR, which amplifies the viral genome and facilitates its easy detection. PCR is a technique that allows researchers to take a very small sample of nucleic acids and amplify it to an amount large enough to test, diagnose, or study in detail.

We cover some of the latest happenings around PCR and nucleic acid amplification kits below.

FDA Grants EUA to Applied DNA Sciences’s COVID-19 Diagnostic Kit

Applied DNA Sciences has been granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) amendment by the FDA to expand the PCR equipment platform for its kit to include the QuantStudio 5 Real-Time PCR system (QS5) from Applied Biosystems, as well as Hamilton Starlet’s robotic automation and the Mag-Bind viral RNA express kit from Omega Bio-Tek. The improved support will significantly help in increasing the throughput of COVID-19 testing. To read more, click here.

Vela Diagnostics’ COVID-19 PCR Test Issued an EUA by the FDA

The VirokeyTM SARS CoV-2 RT-PCR developed by Vela Diagnostics to detect the presence of the virus in nasopharyngeal swabs, has been granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA. It detects the virus by using a probe based RT-PCR test directed towards the conserved regions of the SARS CoV-2 viral genome. To read more, click here.

Genedrive and Beckman Coulter Collaborate on Automated PCR Testing for SARS-CoV-2

Genedrive and Beckman Coulter have signed a collaboration deal to validate Genedrive’s 96 SARS-CoV-2 kit on the Biomek i7 automated platform using saliva samples obtained from Beckman’s RNAdvance viral extraction chemistry kit. After the validation, it has been estimated that the platform can process up to 1,000 samples in an eight-hour work day. To read more, click here.

Researchers at NTU Develop a One-Step PCR Testing Kit for Detecting Viruses and Bacteria

RNA purification has been deemed to be an impediment in the process of sample testing. Recently, researchers from the LKCMedicine team in NTU, Singapore have done away with this step by introducing a single tube PCR test or a “direct PCR” method for sample testing of COVID-19, as well as for other viruses like the dengue virus. Their method involves the addition of inhibitor-resistant enzymes and reagents targeting compounds that obstruct RNA amplification, such as mucin. To read more, click here.

Biocept and Aegea Biotechnologies to Develop PCR Based COVID-19 Assay Using Switch-Blocker PCR Technology

Biocept and Aegea Biotechnologies signed an agreement to develop a highly sensitive PCR based assay for COVID-19 testing based on the patented switch-blocker PCR technology, jointly owned by Biocept and Aegea. Apart from sensitive testing, this assay aims to provide extra information regarding specific strain types. Biocept has previously used this patented technology for its oncology-focused assays. To read more, click here.

Interested to know more? Check out our earlier post on COVID-19 diagnostics here.

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