A Sensitive and Specific Fluorescent RT-LAMP Assay for SARS-CoV-2 Detection in Clinical Samples

ACS Synth Biol. 2022 Jan 21;11(1):448-463. doi: 10.1021/acssynbio.1c00538. Epub 2022 Jan 4.


The raging COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented demand for frequent and widespread testing to limit viral transmission. Reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) has emerged as a promising diagnostic platform for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2, in part because it can be performed with simple instrumentation. However, isothermal amplification methods frequently yield spurious amplicons even in the absence of a template. Consequently, RT-LAMP assays can produce false positive results when they are based on generic intercalating dyes or pH-sensitive indicators. Here, we report the development of a sensitive RT-LAMP assay that leverages on a novel sequence-specific probe to guard against spurious amplicons. We show that our optimized fluorescent assay, termed LANTERN, takes only 30 min to complete and can be applied directly on swab or saliva samples. Furthermore, utilizing clinical RNA samples from 52 patients with COVID-19 infection and 21 healthy individuals, we demonstrate that our diagnostic test exhibits a specificity and positive predictive value of 95% with a sensitivity of 8 copies per reaction. Hence, our new probe-based RT-LAMP assay can serve as an inexpensive method for point-of-need diagnosis of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

Keywords: COVID-19; RT-LAMP; diagnostics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / genetics*
  • COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques*
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques*
  • RNA, Viral / genetics*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / genetics*


  • RNA, Viral

Supplementary concepts

  • LAMP assay