This report describes the development and pre-clinical testing of a new, random-access RNA sample preparation system (TruTip) for nasopharyngeal samples. The system is based on a monolithic, porous nucleic acid binding matrix embedded within an aerosol-resistant pipette tip and can be operated with single or multi-channel pipettors. Equivalent extraction efficiencies were obtained between automated QIAcube and manual TruTip methods at 10(6) gene copies influenza A per mL nasopharyngeal aspirate. Influenza A and B amended into nasopharyngeal swabs (in viral transport medium) were detected by real-time RT-PCR at approximately 745 and 370 gene copies per extraction, respectively. RNA extraction efficiency in nasopharyngeal swabs was also comparable to that obtained on an automated QIAcube instrument over a range of input concentrations; the correlation between threshold cycles (or nucleic acid recovery) for TruTip and QIAcube-purified RNA was R(2)>0.99. Preclinical testing of TruTip on blinded nasopharyngeal swab samples resulted in 98% detection accuracy relative to a clinically validated easyMAG extraction method. The physical properties of the TruTip binding matrix and ability to customize its shape and dimensions likewise make it amenable to automation and/or fluidic integration.
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