A non-enzymatic, isothermal strand displacement and amplification assay for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA

Nat Commun. 2021 Aug 24;12(1):5089. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-25387-9.


The current nucleic acid signal amplification methods for SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection heavily rely on the functions of biological enzymes which imposes stringent transportation and storage conditions, high cost and global supply shortages. Here, a non-enzymatic whole genome detection method based on a simple isothermal signal amplification approach is developed for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA and potentially any types of nucleic acids regardless of their size. The assay, termed non-enzymatic isothermal strand displacement and amplification (NISDA), is able to quantify 10 RNA copies.µL-1. In 164 clinical oropharyngeal RNA samples, NISDA assay is 100 % specific, and it is 96.77% and 100% sensitive when setting up in the laboratory and hospital, respectively. The NISDA assay does not require RNA reverse-transcription step and is fast (<30 min), affordable, highly robust at room temperature (>1 month), isothermal (42 °C) and user-friendly, making it an excellent assay for broad-based testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / diagnosis*
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing / methods*
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Humans
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques / methods*
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification*
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • SARS-CoV-2 / genetics*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / isolation & purification*


  • RNA, Viral