20 min assay for COVID-19 developed

Thursday, 20 August, 2020

20 min assay for COVID-19 developed

Australian researchers have developed a rapid molecular test, called N1-STOP-LAMP, which can diagnose COVID-19 in just 20 minutes. The team’s results have been published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology.

The method involves using a small portable machine, which can detect SARS-CoV-2 from just one nasal swab. It uses only one tube and involves only a single step, making it easier, more efficient and lower cost than many of the current tests for SARS-CoV-2. This makes it a prime candidate for use in settings with limited testing capabilities.

“In the race to control the COVID-19 pandemic, access to rapid, precision diagnostics is key,” said University of Melbourne Professor Tim Stinear, Laboratory Head at the Doherty Institute and a co-author on the study. “We have developed an alternative COVID-19 molecular test that can be readily deployed in settings where access to standard laboratory testing is limited or where ultrarapid result turnaround times are needed.

“We see this kind of technology having benefit in settings liked aged-care facilities or overseas laboratories with limited resources and equipment. The test requires a small shoebox-sized machine, as well as reagents, but everything is portable.”

The N1-STOP-LAMP method correctly identified 87% of tests as positive when used to assess 157 confirmed-positive samples. The results were also fast, with an average time-to-positive of 14 minutes for 93 of those clinical samples.

“STOP-LAMP is what’s referred to as a ‘near care’ test; it is not intended to replace the current gold standard PCR testing,” Prof Stinear noted. “It’s a robust diagnostic test for the specific and rapid detection of COVID-19. But it’s important to note, however, it trades some detection sensitivity for speed and ease of use.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Dmitry Naumov

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