“We have designed a new method for testing that combines the ease of use and speed of lateral flow testing with the inherent sensitivity of an RNA test”, explained Dafforn. “It features reagents that can be used in existing point of care devices and meets the need for testing in high throughput, near-patient, settings where people may be waiting in line for their results.”
Standard RT-PCR assays take more than an hour per sample, and firstly use a reverse transcriptase enzyme to convert RNA to DNA. Afterwards a DNA polymerase enzyme copies and amplified the DNA to detectable levels, which requires time-consuming cycles of heating and cooling. Although isthermic processes have been developed, reducing this step below 20 minutes has proved challenging. Lateral flow tests, which measure the presence of antibodies, can take up to 30 minutes.