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South Korea develops ‘molecular diagnosis’ to detect COVID variant in 20 minutes

While Omicron COVID-19 variant continues to spread, South Korean researchers have developed molecular diagnostic technology that can detect the new strain within minutes. According to ANI, POSTECH announced that a research team led by Professor Lee Jung-wook from the Department of Chemical Engineering has developed the molecular diagnostic technology that can detect the Omicron variant in just 20 to 30 minutes. The development is complete and is now to be commercialized.

According to POSTECH, the new technology can now distinguish mutations in the individual nucleotide bases and thus detect “stealth omicron”, which is difficult to detect using PCR tests. The South Korean researchers said that molecular diagnostic technology is not a sequencing method that reads out DNA or RNA sequences.

They explained that, unlike molecular diagnostic technology, the existing technology only scans certain areas of the virus and only causes nucleic acid binding reactions when the COVID-19 RNA is present, which enables rapid detection.

“I hope that disclosure of this technology will help us get back to normal life as soon as possible,” said Professor Lee. “We will try to quickly diagnose and respond to new variants that could come out after COVID-19,” he added.

Professor Lee stated that Omicron had a strong signal for N genes in PCR but a weak signal for S genes. He said that in the case of ‘Stealth Omicron’, both the N and S genes were confirmed positive, making it difficult to differentiate from other strains. Lee said the new technology works in mechanisms other than PCR and efficiently detects the Omicron variant.

Molecular diagnostics can process over 125 samples in 30 minutes

In addition, according to POSTECH, the new molecular diagnostic technology can process more than 125 samples in 30 minutes, i.e. more than 250 samples per hour. In addition, this technology does not require special equipment, which makes diagnostic kits simple and easy.

South Korean researchers expect this new technology to respond quickly, even if a new variant or virus emerges in the future. At this time, this technology is not yet commercialized, but it can be used as an aid in current situations where the PCR test for Omicron has not yet been developed.

Professor Lee said, “I think this technology will be close to commercialization in the second half of next year after clinical trials. The reason I am disclosing the technology is to share it with others to find better technologies to overcome Develop COVID-19 and make it possible. ” underdeveloped countries also analyze COVID-19 variants. “

(With inputs from ANI)