Novel chip technology that improves testing, tracing for Covid-19

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A team of researchers has developed a chip that provides a simpler and more rapid method of genome sequencing for viruses like Covid-19.

The researchers, including Jeremy Edwards from the University of New Mexico, were able to sequence 95 percent of the genome of each sample with greater than 99.9 percent accuracy.

“This new technology allows for faster and more accurate tracing of Covid and other respiratory viruses, including the appearance of new variants,” Edwards said.

“With this simple and rapid testing procedure, scientists will be able to more accurately track the progression and better prevent the onset of the next pandemic,” Edwards added.

For the study, published in the journal Langmuir, the team created a tiled genome array they developed for rapid and inexpensive full viral genome resequencing and applied their SARS-CoV-2-specific genome tiling array to rapidly and accurately resequenced the viral genome from eight clinical samples acquired from patients in Wyoming that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

With more than 142 million people worldwide have contracted the virus, vigilant testing and contact tracing are the most effective ways to slow the spread of Covid-19.

According to the researchers, traditional methods of clinical testing often produce false positives or negatives and traditional methods of sequencing are time-consuming and expensive.

This new technology will virtually eliminate all of these barriers, they said.

“The chip technology is the best available technology for large-scale viral genome surveillance and monitoring viral variants. This technology could not only help control this pandemic and also prevent future pandemics,” Edwards noted.

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