Science’s recent COVID-19 report suggests that a new test will make testing for the dangerous virus a lot quicker.
Researchers used CRISPR gene-modifying tech to put together a test that detects the novel coronavirus in just 5 minutes.
The Good News
The diagnostic doesn’t need expensive laboratory equipment to run and might be deployed at regular doctor’s offices, schools, and other buildings.
Max Wilson, a molecular biologist from the University of California (UC), Santa Barbara, says that he believes that the new test is “really rock-solid.”
“It’s really quite elegant,” he added.
CRISPR diagnostics are one of the main methods scientists are using to boost the speed of coronavirus tests.
The new test is the fastest of its kind.
Back in May, the fastest test returned a result in approximately one hour.
How It Works
CRISPR tests typically work by analyzing a sequence of RNA long of 20 RNA bases, a trademark of SARS-CoV-2.
They do that by creating a “guide” RNA that complements the target RNA sequence and, therefore, will bind to it as a result.
When the guide binds to the target, the CRISPR Cas13 “scissors” enzyme is enabled and cuts any nearby single-stranded RNA.
The cuts release a separate fluorescent particle in the solution.
When the sample is put under a beam of laser light, the released particles light up, showing the virus’s presence.
Initial CRISPR tests needed researchers to amplify any potential viral RNA before running it through the whole diagnostic process to improve the chance of getting a signal.
That increased complexity, cost, and time, but it certainly refined the whole process, so it’s a welcome addition.