ID Genomics Developing COVID Variant Test Using Handheld System, Dipstick Detection

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Seattle-based ID Genomics is partnering with a diagnostics instrument developer to adapt its genetic fingerprinting methods for point-of-care use.
NEW YORK – Seattle-based diagnostics developer ID Genomics is adapting its genetic fingerprinting technology for SARS-CoV-2 variant testing at the point of care. The firm is collaborating with IEH Laboratories to develop a multiplex endpoint PCR variant test on a handheld thermal cycler instrument called Watson, with a multi-band lateral flow DNA chromatography readout.

In addition to the field-deployable SARS-CoV-2 variant genotyping test, ID Genomics will also soon be launching a sequencing service for variants.

Evgeni Sokurenko is president and CEO of ID Genomics as well as a professor of microbiology at the University of Washington.

In a recent interview, Sokurenko said ID Genomics is using nested PCR to detect variants, with a potential to run up to 50 reactions in a single tube.

Specifically, the technology amplifies about 500 bases in two regions of the SARS-CoV-2 genome — the receptor binding domain and the spike protein N terminal domain — and these regions are subsequently the focus of multiplex SNP-detection assays.

Nested PCR "allows you to have a very high specificity for the reaction, with very few false positives or negatives," Sokurenko said.

The method is currently able to detect 12 SNPs in a single reaction, but Sokurenko said that generally only three of four of these SNPs are present in a single viral genome. The method also uses oligonucleotide-tagged amplicons attached to gold beads which then bind to complementary oligos embedded in a lateral flow dipstick.

Sokurenko said the initial rapid amplification step can serve as a viral detection test, using a dipstick to detect amplified RBD and spike gene segments. The nested PCR step, which could be reflexed for positive samples, takes 10 minutes and the entire process, including two dipstick detections, can be carried out in one standard 0.5 microliter tube.

This is in contrast to multiplexed lab-based SARS-CoV-2 genotyping tests, which potentially require skilled technicians and…
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