Rikiya Watanabe, Chief Scientist
Molecular Physiology Laboratory, Chief Scientist Laboratories
Could you tell us about your research project related to COVID-19?
In this project, we are developing a novel technology platform to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus that is more specific, rapid and sensitive than the methods currently available. Our technique will be able to directly detect the viral RNA (vRNA) from the SARS-CoV-2 virus without having to amplify it, and will be faster than techniques that rely on this method.
What led you to launch this research project?
We have previously developed a technology that can detect single molecules of nucleic acid. We realized that this technology could be easily adapted to detect the vRNA in SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (which is also a nucleic acid) and lead to a specific and rapid virus detection test.
What techniques are you using in your research?
We have previously established a proprietary nucleic acid detection technology (JP 2019-125564), and we are confident that we can easily adapt this technology to detect SARS-CoV-2 vRNA.
How is the project progressing?
We have successfully been able to detect a single molecule of vRNA using our technology platform. Our assay was able to accomplished this within a timeframe of 5 minutes.
What are the hurdles to completing the project?
We have performed successful proof-of-concept experiments with vRNA. We are now looking forward to being able to test and verify our technology on clinical samples.