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Nov. 17, 2020

Rapid and accurate detection of the novel coronavirus

Rikiya Watanabe, Chief Scientist

Image of Rikiya Watanabe

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.

Image of the project

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.