In late 2019 SARS-CoV-2 rapidly spread to become a global pandemic, therefore, measures to attenuate chains of infection, such as high-throughput screenings and isolation of carriers were taken. Prerequisite for a reasonable and democratic implementation of such measures, however, is the availability of sufficient testing opportunities (beyond reverse transcription PCR, the current gold standard). We, therefore, propose an electrochemical, microfluidic multiplexed polymer-based biosensor in combination with CRISPR/Cas-powered assays for low-cost and accessible point-of-care nucleic acid testing. In this study, we simultaneously screen for and identify SARS-CoV-2 infections (Omicron-variant) in clinical specimens (Sample-to-result time: ∼30 min), employing LbuCas13a, whilst bypassing reverse transcription as well as target amplification of the viral RNA (LODs of 2,000 and 7,520 copies/µl for the E and RdRP genes, respectively, and 50 copies/ml for combined targets), both of which are necessary for detection via PCR and other isothermal methods. In addition, we demonstrate the feasibility of combining synthetic biology-driven assays based on different classes of biomolecules, in this case protein-based ß-lactam antibiotic detection, on the same device. The programmability of the effector and multiplexing capacity (up to six analytes) of our platform, in combination with a miniaturized measurement setup, including a credit card sized near field communication (NFC) potentiostat and a microperistaltic pump, provide a promising on-site tool for identifying individuals infected with variants of concern and monitoring their disease progression alongside other potential biomarkers or medication clearance.

Multiplexed biosensor for point-of-care COVID-19 monitoring: CRISPR-powered unamplified RNA diagnostics and protein-based therapeutic drug management

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DOI: 10.1016/j.mattod.2022.11.001