Global health security hinges on our ability to contain and combat infectious disease outbreaks. The COVID-19 pandemic has made this harsh reality painfully clear. Initially, the detection of a cluster of atypical pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China was met with limited concern. But this novel coronavirus—termed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2—has since impacted every facet of society and contributed to over 1.5 million deaths worldwide.

Curbing the spread of the virus required robust and rapid testing that simply wasn’t available at the outset of the pandemic. The tools and methods were there, but biochemists were yet to develop procedures suitable for mass screening of the population.

A new study carried out by researchers in Thailand has explored the use of a novel diagnostic platform based on colorimetric reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP). The DeNovix DS-11 compact spectrophotometer was used to prepare SARS-CoV-2 standards for this pioneering study.

The Need for a New Diagnostic Platform

Intensive research and development (R&D) has yielded a range of viable COVID-19 testing kits based on polymerase chain reactions (PCR), antigen detection, lateral flow assays, and so on. However, none of these satisfy the need for a fast, low-cost, and above all, accurate method of detecting SARS-CoV-2 infection. The RT-LAMP method has been earmarked as a potential solution to these challenges, paving the way for an effective testing paradigm for reliable COVID-19 testing at scale.

What is the RT-LAMP Technique?

The RT-LAMP process is similar to PCR. It is a one-step nucleic acid amplification technique used to multiply specific RNA sequences after using a reverse transcriptase to generate complementary DNA (cDNA) from viral RNA. This recent study deployed colorimetric RT-LAMP with comparable specificity to that of qRT-PCR assays without the need for thermal cycling. Results showed that the novel testing assay could reliably amplify the target gene and enable easy visual interpretation within an hour at 65C, with no cross-reactivity to other common respiratory viruses.

Using Compact Spectrophotometers to Prepare Standards

The researchers leveraged a DS-11 compact spectrophotometer to verify the concentration of viral RNA samples. DeNovix systems are uniquely suited to DNA and RNA quantitation with dual built-in absorbance and fluorescence modes available in a single compact instrument. Researchers can quantify RNA via UV-Vis absorption with a sensitivity as low as 0.6 ng/µl and by fluorescence at concentrations as low as 0.25 ng/µl. The enhanced sensitivity and rapid analytical run-times of our compact spectrophotometers make them the ideal instruments for time-critical research applications with global health implications.

Interested in purchasing a compact spectrophotometer?

Contact a member of the DeNovix team today to learn more about using our instruments for diagnostic research applications.