Researchers Develop CRISPR Diagnostic Test for COVID-19

A diagnostic test as simple to use as a pregnancy test.

Researchers at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass. announced in early May a prototype of a quick and inexpensive test for the coronarvirus, at around $6, they hope. This could overcome the shortcomings of the PCR Test.

Dr. Feng Zhang and his colleagues posted a description of their device on the website STOPCovid dedicated to their project which. Dr. Zhang and his colleagues hope to fill that gap with tests that are affordable and easy enough to use without special expertise, according to

Feng Zhang, PhD 

The New York Times, which first reported on this May 5. Researchers tried out the test on samples from 12 patients with Covid-19. For 11 of them, they successfully detected the virus on 3 out of 3 tries. For the 12th, they succeeded 2 out of 3 times. When they tested 5 healthy people, all consistently tested negative. The researchers found that the test worked on both nasal swabs and saliva.  This is a proof of concept, and it remains to be seen how well the test would perform in the real world.

Of note is that the method has not yet been tested by other scientists, nor have the findings been published by a scientific journal that subjected them to scrutiny by independent experts.

Dr. Zhang and his colleagues have set up a website with the instructions for STOPCovid in the hope that other researchers will try out their procedure and find ways to improve it.

Two other teams of researchers, one in Buenos Aires and the other in San Francisco, are also working to devise new tests to detect the virus using gene-editing technology.

More on this story, including an Interview with management; our last conversation with the leadership; analyst comments on the challenges and likelihood that such a test can be developed in any specific time frame.

####  Background information

MedCity News Story. May 7

MedCity News Story July 1

Source. Carl Zimmer, The New York Times. Full story.

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