Researchers have used CRISPR gene-editing technology to come up with a test that detects the pandemic coronavirus in just 5 minutes. The diagnostic doesn’t require expensive lab equipment to run and could potentially be deployed at doctor’s offices, schools, and office buildings.
“It looks like they have a really rock-solid test,” says Max Wilson, a molecular biologist at the University of California (UC), Santa Barbara. “It’s really quite elegant.”
CRISPR diagnostics are just one way researchers are trying to speed coronavirus testing. The new test is the fastest CRISPR-based diagnostic yet. In May, for example, two teams reported creating CRISPR-based coronavirus tests that could detect the virus in about an hour, much faster than the 24 hours needed for conventional coronavirus diagnostic tests.
Doudna and Ott say they and their colleagues are now working to validate their test setup and are looking into how to commercialize it.
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