The US federal agency Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted permission for emergency use of a new test to detect the coronavirus. Through the technique of Short Palindromic Repetitions Grouped and Regularly Interspaced – or CRISPR -, the methodology is based on the edition of the analyzed genome and will allow to expand the amount of diagnoses performed in the country.

According to the NGO The COVID Tracking Project, about 250 thousand tests are already applied there daily, but there are places where the lack of equipment for the wider identification of infected people has been found. With this measure, certified laboratories will be able to provide results with efficiency and agility.

The company behind the kits is Sherlock Biosciences, a Cambridge-based biotechnology company. Basically, the devices allow to detect certain genetic sequences to visualize fragments of SARS-CoV-2. These sequences are obtained from fluids supplied by the patient through swabs or even collected from the nose, mouth, throat or lung. With the presence of the virus, a fluorescent glow is generated in about an hour, according to the company.

Ambitious – and complicated plans
Other institutions have also started to develop solutions of the type to expand the capacity to apply the technique – seeking even more effective results that can beat the 40 minute mark. However, Rahul Dhanda, Sherlock’s chief executive, is even more ambitious, stating that their goal is to create a test that does not need to undergo laboratory processing and can be done at home. The novelty, of course, would go through a new series of validations by the tax agencies.

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The challenge is not simple: of the 60 authorizations issued since April on an emergency basis for coronavirus diagnoses, not one has even allowed autonomous techniques, performed only at home. Even so, the same team responsible for the application of the CRISPR methodology has already demonstrated its ability and proved that it is possible to detect low levels of Zika virus and those that cause dengue in 2017 – which can help in future processes.

“The most important thing is that people follow the recommendations of social distancing: limit exposure to other individuals, stay healthy and warn others when they are not well,” advises Dhanda. “We have to believe that everyone will do the right thing. I saw the Sherlock community mobilize immediately and urgently to fight the crisis, collaborating instead of competing ”.

In the United States, more than 1.3 million cases of covid-19 have been reported and more than 78,000 deaths.


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