FRIDAY, Aug. 6, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Spit and scan. That’s all you have to do, and in less than an hour, you will not only be able to know if you have COVID-19 but which variant you have, all without leaving your home.
This is the hope and promise of a new saliva-based COVID-19 test currently in development.
“There are several at-home tests available to tell you if you have COVID-19, but no variants test,” said study author Dr. Xiao Tan, clinical fellow at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. , in Boston.
There are no plans to commercialize the test yet, but a new proof-of-concept study shows that the technology works just as well as gold standard PCR tests and could cost as little as $ 3 per test, which is much cheaper than the present. COVID-19 home tests available.
The test, called minimally instrumented SHERLOCK (miSHERLOCK), is based on CRISPR gene selection technology. It only requires ready-to-use chemical agents, a 3D printer, and commonly available equipment.
In contrast, COVID-19 tests based on PCR technology require highly specialized equipment and results can take approximately four hours. If a sample were analyzed for a specific variant using PCR technology, it would have to be genetically sequenced, which requires even more time and resources, Tan explained.
Several COVID-19 home tests are currently available. Some tests require samples to be sent to a laboratory for analysis, while others provide results at home using various technologies, such as test cards and processing fluids. PCR tests cannot be processed at home.
So researchers from the Wyss Institute, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and several Boston-area hospitals collaborated to develop the new test.
For the study, the researchers analyzed saliva samples from 27 people with COVID-19 and 21 people without the virus. The test identified the virus about 96% of the time, which is on par with PCR testing. Additionally, the test detected three different variants of COVID-19: the UK, South African and Brazilian variants.