2021-06-23

Scientists have developed low-cost technology to find new variants of SARS-CoV-2

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Scientists have developed low-cost technology to find new variants of SARS-CoV-2

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of viral genomes have been sequenced to reconstruct the evolution and global spread of the coronavirus. This is very important for identifying variants that are more infectious, more pathogenic, or resistant to existing vaccines.

For global surveillance of the SARS-CoV-2 genome, it is essential to sequence and analyze many samples in a cost-effective manner. Therefore, researchers from Bienko-Crosetto Laboratory and SciLifeLab of Karolinska Institute in Sweden have developed a new method called COVseq, which can be used for large-scale viral genome monitoring with low cost.

Their method is to first use the so-called multiplex PCR (polymerase chain reaction) to create many copies of the viral genome, and then use a method previously developed by the Bienko-Crosetto laboratory to label and pool the samples In the same sequencing library, it is now adapted for SARS-CoV-2 analysis.

Zhang Ning, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics of Karolinska Institutet, said: “By reacting in a very small volume and pooling hundreds of samples into the same sequencing library , We can sequence potentially thousands of viral genomes every week, and the cost per sample is less than $15.”

Comparative analysis of 29 SARS-CoV-2 positive samples showed , COVseq has similar capabilities to standard methods in identifying small changes in the genome. Analysis of another 245 samples shows that COVseq also has a high ability to detect new coronavirus variants that may cause concern. Compared with existing methods, the key advantage of COVseq is cost-effectiveness.

Nicola Crosetto, a senior researcher in the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics of Karolinska Institutet and the last author of the paper, said: “Our cheap method can be used immediately for SARS-CoV-2 Genome monitoring can also be easily adapted to other RNA viruses, such as influenza and dengue fever virus.”