Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent
The Abu Dhabi-based Group 42 (G42) and the UK-based Oxford Nanopore Technologies have co-developed an unprecedented population-scale technology that rapidly and accurately detects SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. The end-to-end solution will be officially launched within weeks.
With ultra-high parallel processing capacity, the new technology has the potential to transform the diagnostics industry globally. This innovation uses the LamPORE assay, which is based on the LAMP (loop-mediated isothermal amplification) technique and Oxford Nanopore’s rapid sequencing platform, in combination with the high-throughput automation, sample processing and reporting workflows developed by G42.
Population-wide testing can help break the transmission patterns of the virus, reducing the number of cases when used in conjunction with a rapid public health response. However, existing methods make such large-scale processing logistically difficult and cost-prohibitive. The end-to-end solution developed by G42 and Oxford Nanopore can dramatically reduce the complexity of mass screening.
This new solution based on the LamPORE assay is now being incorporated into the UAE national testing strategy. Over a ramp-up period in the G42 sequencing facility in Abu Dhabi, the programme is expected to scale to hundreds of thousands of samples daily. In addition, the flexibility of the solution supports decentralised operations as well, enabling on-demand testing anytime, anywhere. G42 and Oxford Nanopore are working on the production capacity for the global deployment of this technology.
Peng Xiao, CEO of G42, said, “The collaboration with Oxford Nanopore, a global leader in advanced sequencing products, accelerates G42’s ongoing endeavor to develop impactful applications for public health. This breakthrough solution is a result of the tireless effort by our joint teams under the extraordinary pressure of COVID-19. The worst of the pandemic has brought out the best in us. We believe this capability will not only enable large-scale screening of SARS-CoV-2, but also fundamentally shift the paradigm on health diagnostics in general.”
The LamPORE assay can be performed on the extracted RNA from swabs, and it is also in development to work directly from saliva. Moreover, the LamPORE assay can be used to analyse environmental samples to assess the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on surfaces, or in systems such as water and sewage treatment facilities.
Dr. Gordon Sanghera, CEO of Oxford Nanopore, noted, “Precise and cost-efficient population-scale testing is key to a responsible easing of restrictions, to protect the health of populations and supporting the re-opening of global economic activity. Rapid insights, scalability, and non-PCR dependence, all make a high-throughput screening capacity built on LamPORE technology the right tool for governments and organisations to implement mass-scale testing. We are confident that our partnership with G42 will allow us to successfully deploy this new technology around the world.”
This scientific and engineering collaboration between G42 and Oxford Nanopore was born out of a deep partnership between the two companies in conceptualizing, developing and optimizing sequencing capabilities to identify, track, trace and isolate COVID-19 cases and better prepare for future outbreaks.
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