LAMP Lights Up COVID-19 Testing

May 07, 2020 | Biotechnology

Reading time: 4 minutes

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The COVID-19 tests in use today are laborious and complicated. They require a skilled professional to take samples, perform the reaction and analyze the results. Also, there is the need for dedicated machines, chemical reagents, sophisticated transport logistics, etc. But, what if COVID-19 testing didn’t have to be so cumbersome?

Two preprints published within the last week suggest that the science is already here to make a simple, easy to read COVID-19 test a possibility. One study is from a group of researchers at Weill Cornell Medical School in NYC—the epicenter of the epidemic in the United States. The other is from a group at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel.

At the heart of the technique reported in both papers is loop-mediated isothermal amplification, or LAMP. Developed by a Japanese group of researchers at the Osaka University Medical School in Japan two decades ago, LAMP is performed in a single tube, at a constant temperature for very little cost, to detect DNA. The technique amplifies DNA quickly—with high specificity and efficiency.

LAMP relies on DNA polymerase and a set of four to six primers, designed to recognize a total of six distinct sequences on the target DNA. One of the inner primers initiates strand displacement and amplification. A strand displacing DNA polymerase displaces the two original DNA strands while creating a new strand. A separate primer then displaces the newly made strand, and a loop is formed due to complementary sequences on the primers. The process of displacement, amplification, and forming loops continues until the DNA forms a dumbbell structure. It is the accumulation of these amplification byproducts that can be easily detected. (For a visual explanation on how LAMP works, please see the video at the end of this article.) Add to the above protocol a reverse tran... Read the whole article at the GEN Blog.

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