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High throughput automated simultaneous detection and differentiation of SARS-CoV-2 and 30 other common respiratory bacteria and viruses.

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The challenge

The emergence of the new coronavirus in December 2019 in Wuhan City, China and the following declaration of outbreak of the COVID-19 disease by the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in January 2020, has triggered the urgent need to quickly identify patients infected with the new SARS-CoV-2 virus.

As of January 2021, the COVID-19 outbreak has caused over 119 million infections globally, claiming more than 2.6 million lives.  Rapid and definitive diagnosis of the specific SARS-CoV-2 is essential, while identifying other common viral and bacterial pathogens is vital in the management of treatment and in timely isolation of infected patients with overlapping clinical symptoms.

Numerous studies have shown that 5.8% of SARS-CoV-2 infected and 18.4% of non-SARS-CoV-2-infected patients had other concurrent pathogen infections. Failure to distinguish different pathogens may lead to unnecessary antimicrobial use, cross-infection of mis-grouped patients and further spreading of the infection. Therefore, in response to the current outbreak, single gene testing is not optimal, especially considering the virus may become permanently and globally endemic.

Simple, sensitive and multiplex detection of all respiratory pathogens is technically challenging. In response to the need for faster and better detection of multiple respiratory pathogens, GeneFirst has developed a prototype using its innovative proprietary technology - MPA (Multiplex Probe Amplification) - to simultaneously detect and differentiate SARS-CoV-2 as well as 30 other common respiratory bacteria and viruses. This assay will allow for accurate, cost-effective and comprehensive diagnoses during the current outbreak as well as future routine diagnosis.

In this 15 month project, the consortium aims to analytically and clinically validate (CE-mark) this assay on two automated platforms for Point-of-Care and core pathology testing. This strategy provides maximum flexibility in screening and triage, allowing better and faster care, alleviating pressures on healthcare systems and improving patient recovery rates.

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Funding Bodies

This project has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement No 101005144. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and EFPIA.

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