Deployable CRISPR-Cas13a diagnostic tools to detect and report Ebola and Lassa virus cases in real-time

Nat Commun. 2020 Aug 17;11(1):4131. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-17994-9.


Recent outbreaks of viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHFs), including Ebola virus disease (EVD) and Lassa fever (LF), highlight the urgent need for sensitive, deployable tests to diagnose these devastating human diseases. Here we develop CRISPR-Cas13a-based (SHERLOCK) diagnostics targeting Ebola virus (EBOV) and Lassa virus (LASV), with both fluorescent and lateral flow readouts. We demonstrate on laboratory and clinical samples the sensitivity of these assays and the capacity of the SHERLOCK platform to handle virus-specific diagnostic challenges. We perform safety testing to demonstrate the efficacy of our HUDSON protocol in heat-inactivating VHF viruses before SHERLOCK testing, eliminating the need for an extraction. We develop a user-friendly protocol and mobile application (HandLens) to report results, facilitating SHERLOCK's use in endemic regions. Finally, we successfully deploy our tests in Sierra Leone and Nigeria in response to recent outbreaks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats / genetics
  • Ebolavirus / genetics
  • Ebolavirus / pathogenicity*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / diagnosis*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / virology
  • Lassa Fever / diagnosis*
  • Lassa Fever / virology
  • Lassa virus / genetics
  • Lassa virus / pathogenicity*


  • Antibodies, Viral