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A new, 20-minute assay for COVID-19 diagnosis

Researchers have developed a new test that can diagnose COVID-19 in just 20 minutes.

Person holding test tubes

Researchers have run a test that can detect COVID-19 in 20 minutes. / Photo: Pexels

EurekAlert | Microbiology Society

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Leer en español: Nuevo ensayo para el diagnóstico de COVID-19 en 20 minutos

The findings, published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology, show the rapid molecular test called N1-STOP-LAMP, is 100% accurate in diagnosing samples containing SARS-CoV-2 at high loads.

The test is highly accurate and easy to use, making it a prime candidate for use in settings with limited testing capabilities. The method involves using a small portable machine, which can reliably detect SARS-CoV-2 from just one nasal swab. "In the race to control the COVID-19 pandemic, access to rapid, precision diagnostics is key. We have developed an alternative COVID-19 molecular test that can be readily deployed in settings where access to standard laboratory testing is limited or where ultra-rapid result turnaround times are needed" said University of Melbourne Professor Tim Stinear, Laboratory Head at the Doherty Institute.

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This new test uses only one tube and involves only a single step, making it more efficient and lower cost than many of the current tests for SARS-CoV-2. The N1-STOP-LAMP method was found to be 100% accurate and correctly identified 87% of tests as positive when used to assess 157 confirmed-positive samples. The results were fast, with an average time-to-positive of 14 minutes for 93 of those clinical samples.

"We see this kind of technology having benefit in settings liked aged care facilities, or overseas laboratories with limited resources and equipment," Professor Stinear said. "The test requires a small shoebox-sized machine, as well as reagents, but everything is portable."

"STOP-LAMP is what's referred to as a 'near care' test, it is not intended to replace the current gold standard PCR testing. It's a robust diagnostic test for the specific and rapid detection of COVID-19. But it's important to note however, it trades some detection sensitivity for speed and ease-of-use".

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