Aug, 2021 - By WMR
A team of researchers from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology designed a diagnostic test for users to test themselves for SARS-CoV-2 and its emerging variants at home using their saliva.
The global pandemic COVID-19, first identified in the city of Wuhan, China in the late 2019, has spread across the globe rapidly affecting the healthcare and economic structures of the countries throughout the globe. Different tests such as real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and rapid antigen tests are conducted to determine whether an individual contracted coronavirus or not. RT-PCR is the most accurate COVID-19 tests which require laboratory equipment and technical skills to find accurate result. Although, this test gives accurate results but limits the speed of COVID-19 test, track and trace systems, and thereby, challenge the spread of virus. Moreover, rapid antigen tests have its limitations such as providing false-negative and false-positive results. Additionally, these tests fail to detect different emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2. Thus, the researchers from Harvard University and MIT designed a CRISPR-based diagnostic test that would help users to test themselves at home for SARS-CoV-2 and its emerging variants by using their saliva. For this test, the users require a smartphone app and the test result is produced within 55 minutes. The smartphone app is created on the basis of color segmentation algorithm to help users in interpreting the results. The researchers named this test as a miSHERLOCK. This CRISPR-based test is cost-effective and allows users to do self-test for SARS-CoV-2 and its variants at home. This test is capable of detecting and differentiating SARS-CoV-2 variants. The researchers believed that saliva samples perform similarly to nasal and throat swabs and is easier to collect without technical expertise.
The researchers concluded that this diagnostic test would improve tracking and treatment of COVID-19 globally.