UAE develops Covid-testing tech more accurate than PCR

Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi Filed on November 12, 2020

The testing is more accurate than the widely used Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing method.

Covid-19 virus can easily be detected even in asymptomatic patients using the latest testing technique developed in the UAE.

The new three-step cost-effective testing approach will improve testing accuracy significantly, according to researchers at New York University – Abu Dhabi's (NYUAD) Biology Programme and Centre for Genomics and Systems Biology (CGSB). The testing is more accurate than the widely used Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing method, added the scientists.

They demonstrated reliable ultra-sensitive and quantitative detection of low Covid-19 viral loads (less than one copy/microlitre) using synthetic viral RNA, clinical nasopharyngeal swab samples and saliva samples, including samples previously diagnosed as negative by clinical diagnostic testing.

"We developed and implemented a method that enhances the accuracy of the gold standard PCR by adding one extra step to testing: making billions of copies of viral particles than doing detection,” Youssef Idaghdour, assistant professor of biology at NYUAD, told Khaleej Times.

“Our three-step approach will reduce the false negative rate of standard RT-PCR-based diagnostic tests for Covid-19 and other viral infections. This would allow public health officials to more readily identify and trace asymptomatic individuals, enhance the accuracy of air and environmental sampling for Covid-19, expand accurate detection to saliva testing and help curtail the spread of the virus.

“Using nanotechnology (lab-in-a-chip) to increase precision further, proved crucial to detect very low viral loads in samples which is typical in asymptomatic individuals. We validated this approach and detected the virus in samples previously diagnosed as negative using standard PCR testing," explained Idaghdour.

“By adding a pre-amplification step and using microfluidic technology, we have demonstrated that this sensitive detection method can detect low viral loads, which is critical to enabling the most effective public health responses to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said .


Ismail Sebugwaawo

A professional journalist originating from Kampala, Uganda, Ismail is a happy father with strong attachment to family and great values for humanity. He has practiced journalism in UAE for the past 13 years, covering the country's parliament (FNC) and crimes, including Abu Dhabi Police, public prosecution and courts. He also reports about important issues in education, public health and the environment, with a keen interest in human interest stories. When out of reporting duties, he serves the Ugandan community in Abu Dhabi as he wants to see his countrymen happy. Exercising and reading are part of his free time.

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