The December 2019 outbreak of a novel respiratory virus, SARS-CoV-2, has become an ongoing global pandemic due in part to the challenge of identifying symptomatic, asymptomatic, and pre-symptomatic carriers of the virus. CRISPR diagnostics can augment gold-standard PCR-based testing if they can be made rapid, portable, and accurate. Here, we report the development of an amplification-free CRISPR-Cas13a assay for direct detection of SARS-CoV-2 from nasal swab RNA that can be read with a mobile phone microscope. The assay achieved ∼100 copies/μL sensitivity in under 30 min of measurement time and accurately detected pre-extracted RNA from a set of positive clinical samples in under 5 min. We combined crRNAs targeting SARS-CoV-2 RNA to improve sensitivity and specificity and directly quantified viral load using enzyme kinetics. Integrated with a reader device based on a mobile phone, this assay has the potential to enable rapid, low-cost, point-of-care screening for SARS-CoV-2.
Keywords: COVID-19; CRISPR Dx; CRISPR-Cas13; SARS-CoV-2; mobile phone microscopy; point-of-care diagnostics.
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