TaqMan probe-based commercial real-time (RT) PCR kits are expensive but most frequently used in COVID-19 diagnosis. The unprecedented scale of SARS-CoV-2 infections needs to meet the challenge of testing more persons at a reasonable cost. This study developed a simple and cost-effective alternative diagnostic method based on melting curve analysis of SYBR green multiplex assay targeting two virus-specific genes along with a host-specific internal control. A total of 180 randomly selected samples portioning into two subsets based on crude and high-quality RNA extraction were used to compare this assay with a nationwide available commercial kit (Sansure Biotech Inc., (Hunan, China)), so that we could analyze the variation and validity of this in-house developed method. Our customized-designed primers can specifically detect the viral RNA likewise Sansure. We separately optimized SYBR Green RT-PCR reaction of N, E, S, and RdRp genes based on singleplex melting curve analysis at the initial stage. After several rounds of optimization on multiplex assays of different primer combinations, the optimized method finally targeted N and E genes of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, together with the β-actin gene of the host as an internal control. Comparing with the Sansure commercial kit, our proposed assay provided up to 97% specificity and 93% sensitivity. The cost of each sample processing ranged between ~2 and ~6 USD depending on the purification level of extracted RNA template. Overall, this one-step and one-tube method can revolutionize the COVID-19 diagnosis in low-income countries.

Fuente: Scientific Reports

Published: 20 April 2022