A platform for low-cost and rapid detection of viral RNA

– Researchers at The RNA Institute developed a DNA-based platform for rapid viral RNA testing, including but not limited to Zika, Dengue and COVID-19. In collaborative work, the Halvorsen and Pager labs established a low-cost test for Zika and Dengue. Upon the release of the genome sequence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in January this year, they swiftly reprogrammed their platform to perform rapid detection of the virus responsible for the COVID-19 outbreak, and has produced its first major advance published in an August 15 issue of the journal Science Advances. The paper, “Programmable low-cost DNA-based platform for viral RNA detection,” demonstrates the feasibility of detecting SARS-CoV-2 RNA in human saliva in about 2 hours. UAlbany investigators express confidence in cutting this time in half. This new research received attention from the AAAS news release service and The Star of Malaysia, and was mentioned in COVID-19 updates on Science Magazine and The Scientist (quotes Dr. Ken Halvorsen). Dr. Halvorsen also received major NSF funding for rapid coronavirus testing.

DNA nanoswitch strategy for viral RNA sensing. (A) Schematic of the DNA nanoswitch and detection of a viral RNA sequence. (B) Fast development cycle of nanoswitches for RNA viruses. (C) Nanoswitch-based assay allows direct detection using a non-enzymatic approach (top panel) and can optionally be combined with an isothermal amplification step like NASBA: nucleic acid sequence-based amplification (bottom panel).
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