Low cost, kidnapped and at a cost below 15 euros. To develop COVseq, able to recognize the variants of the SarsCov2 virus, including the Delta, were the researchers of the Karolinska Institutet of Stockholm and theInstitute of Candiolo FPO-IRCCS e Amedeo di Savoia Hospital in Turin. The results of the validation experiments of the new Italian-Swedish method are published on Nature Communications.
"The test detects new variants in real-time, halving the genomic mapping time needed today and with reduced costs. With COVseq "we are able to sequence hundreds of viral samples per week at a cost of under 15 Euros per sample, significantly lower than the methods currently available", he explains. Nicola Crosetto, first author of the publication and research coordinator.
How does the test work?
“COVseq allows the genetic analysis in parallel of the sequences of more than one sample using very small reaction volumes, thanks to particular equipment already available in Candiolo and a technique called multiplex PCR to amplify the entire viral genome. Subsequently each sample is 'tagged', marked with a molecular barcode, a label that distinguishes it from all the others making it unique. This makes it possible to analyze a large number of genomic sequences quickly and at low cost ".
Availability of the test
The innovative Italian-Swedish method "is already fully functional in Candiolo where it is being further validated, in parallel with diagnostic kits approved by the Authority, as part of the genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 that the Candiolo Institute carries out weekly for the Piedmont Region and monthly for the Istituto Superiore di Sanità ”, said Antonino Sottile, general director of the Candiolo Institute and co-author of the study. Thanks to COVseq "we now have an effective and low-cost tool to continue genomic surveillance in the coming months, crucial in order to promptly intercept the appearance of new viral variants in the already vaccinated population, especially in fragile subjects such as cancer patients".
Since the beginning of the pandemic thousands of genome sequences of the Sars-CoV-2 virus responsible for the Covid-19 disease, have been produced around the world and made available to the scientific community through the Gisaid platform.
This effort has made it possible to promptly identify the emergence and global spread of new variants with greater transmissibility and pathogenicity, such as the so-called variants English, South African, Brazilian and Indian, recently renamed Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta respectively by the World Health Organization.
Not just for Covid-19
The test will also be useful for mapping the tumour genome. "In addition to the Coronavirus, the test can be easily adapted to the sequencing of other viruses of epidemiological relevance, or of viruses that cause immunosuppression and the possible onset of hematological diseases. Furthermore, this method can be used for DNA sequencing of the individual cells that make up the tumour to ensure increasingly personalized and targeted therapies ", explains Anna Sapino, Scientific Director of the Candiolo Institute and co-author of the study.