10 Emerging technologies that help fight COVID-19

  1. Sherlock — is a Cas13a-based CRISPR system that targets RNA rather than DNA, and does not stop cutting after reaching its intended target. It also cuts any RNA that happens to be nearby, a feature that can be used to provide a clue that the target is present. In 2017, Feng Zhang’s group first reported a CRISPR-based nucleic acid detection technique called SHERLOCK (Specific High sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter unLOCKing). After refining it over the years, the authors published a protocol for using SHERLOCK for sensitive detection of nucleic acids in 2019. The researchers demonstrated that they could use this protocol to detect coronavirus target RNA sequences with a sensitivity of 10–100 copies/µl of input. They note that this technology can be used for testing RNA purified from patient samples in less than an hour without the need for special instrumentation.

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