Enabling Rapid Detection of Label-Free RNA for Use in COVID-19 Testing

A rapid, reliable, and adaptable detection platform for COVID-19 and other pathogens using minimal reagents and preparatory steps

A rapid, reliable, and adaptable detection platform for COVID-19 and other pathogens using minimal reagents and preparatory steps

Abstract

This detection platform uses double-stranded oligonucleotide probes to detect and quantify viral presence (e.g., COVID-19). In contrast to antibody tests, which rely on the host mounting an effective but delayed immune response to an invasive pathogen, Georgia Tech’s approach has the potential to identify infection during the earliest infection stages when an asymptomatic host can unknowingly spread the contagion. Unlike conventional flow cytometry samples, samples in this study did not require labeling of RNA targets or any wash steps (reagent use) to remove excess or unbound RNA. Thus, the overall simplicity of sample preparation and testing parameter requirements provides additional advantages to this rapid detection platform. Because this technology does not require high-demand sample collection supplies (e.g., swabs), shortages are much less likely to limit testing. Further, avoiding the use of reagents could reduce the likelihood of contamination seen in earlier tests.

Benefits/Advantages

  • Earlier detection: Identifying the viral components themselves—rather than the body’s reaction to the viral presence (i.e., antibodies)—potentially improves early detection in asymptomatic subjects.
  • Simpler process: Use of minimal reagents and fewer preparatory steps is designed to enable more efficient and facile sample preparation. Avoidance of “wash steps” aims to minimize target loss.
  • Fewer disruptions: Avoiding the use of high-demand supplies (e.g., swabs) and reagents potentially reduces supply-chain and contamination issues.
  • Fast results: Sample incubation of 15 minutes with an unlabeled target oligonucleotide sequence with sufficient complementarity would generate a fluorescent signal reporting a positive test.

Contact Information

Georgia Tech Office of Technology Licensing
Email: techlicensing@gtrc.gatech.edu

Researchers

  • Dr. Valeria Milam, Associate Professor - Georgia Tech School of Materials Science and Engineering
  • Mary Catherine Adams, PhD Candidate - Georgia Tech School of Materials Science and Engineering

Patent Status

U.S. Application Filed

Figures

Schematics (left) and flow cytometry plots (right) of microsphere-immobilized double-stranded probesEnabling Rapid Detection of Label-Free RNA for Use in COVID-19 Testing