A Scalable, Easy-to-Deploy Protocol for Cas13-Based Detection of SARS-CoV-2 Genetic Material

J Clin Microbiol. 2021 Mar 19;59(4):e02402-20. doi: 10.1128/JCM.02402-20. Print 2021 Mar 19.


The COVID-19 pandemic has created massive demand for widespread, distributed tools for detecting SARS-CoV-2 genetic material. The hurdles to scalable testing include reagent and instrument accessibility, availability of highly trained personnel, and large upfront investment. Here, we showcase an orthogonal pipeline we call CREST (Cas13-based, rugged, equitable, scalable testing) that addresses some of these hurdles. Specifically, CREST pairs commonplace and reliable biochemical methods (PCR) with low-cost instrumentation, without sacrificing detection sensitivity. By taking advantage of simple fluorescence visualizers, CREST allows a binary interpretation of results. CREST may provide a point-of-care solution to increase the distribution of COVID-19 surveillance.

Keywords: COVID-19; CRISPR; Cas13; SARS-CoV-2; point of care; testing.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Point-of-Care Systems
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • SARS-CoV-2*