Can Digital PCR technology detect Coronavirus?
As the entire world continues to battle against one of the most serious epidemics our modern society has ever faced, the need for reliable and easily implementable testing solutions has never been higher. Implementing testing measures on a massive scale is crucial to controlling the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, as this can allow for better targeted quarantine and contact tracing actions.
Yet, too many test results still yield false negatives, which has significant consequences on the evolution of COVID-19. The main reason for this is that the samples used are complex by nature and only contain trace amounts of the virus itself if the test is done in the early stages of infection, for instance. Digital PCR assays, however, provide a concrete answer to this problem.
DPCR: An Innovative Solution
Unlike some testing protocols still in use today, Digital PCR does not require a standard curve to deliver sensitive results. Offering a high resistance to inhibitors, DPCR quantifies nucleic acids in complex environments by providing an absolute count of RNA or DNA molecules. This is achieved by amplifying a reaction within a sample whose constituting elements are isolated in the form of individual droplets: this is called partitioning. The amplification process reveals a fluorescent signal if the molecule being tested for is identified within a droplet. A droplet reader is then used to analyze and interpret these results by calculating its concentration. Digital pcr results provide absolute quantification, and therefore does not require a base curve for the readings to be interpretable.
Stilla Technologies has developed a pioneering Digital PCR solution which, in combination with Coronavirus detection kits, can determine the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus quickly and accurately.
How Can Digital PCR Help in the Detection of Coronavirus?
By measuring the viral load of the SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen responsible for COVID-19, the Naica™ system could provide invaluable help.
Predominantly used for research purposes up until now, Stilla Technologies’ Naica™ system can be utilized to carry out high precision genetic analyses. This Digital PCR solution is able to detect even low viral loads in patients who are mildly infected or in case of a defective sample, thus effectively preventing false negatives. More sensitive testing methods are crucial to help curb the progression of the disease in the first instance, and to then stop it from re-emerging.
Thanks to this highly sensitive DPCR tool, over 15 Chinese institutions have successfully interpreted more than 1,200 samples which RT PCR methods had not been sufficiently sensitive to test properly.
Preliminary results show dPCR to be more accurate in its detection of COVID-19 than the Real Time PCR methods which have been relied upon thus far, promising much hope in the fight against Coronavirus.