A team of scientist from Saint Vincent University Hospital, National Virus Reference Laboratory, University College Dublin, and Magnostics Ltd, announced today at the Science Foundation of Ireland’s 2020 Science Summit the development of viral RNA extraction kits for medium-throughput processing of COVID-19 samples for detection using RT-PCR.

Testing people for COVID-19 infection helps to diagnose patients, who can then isolate and receive treatment as needed. High rates of testing across the world are key in enabling us to safely navigate our way out of the pandemic. Sampling involves taking a sample from the back of the nose and throat with a swab and put that sample through a lab test (PCR) to see if the virus is present. However, testing has been disrupted by an unreliable supply of the high-quality reagents, solutions, and chemicals needed.

With Science Foundation of Ireland (SFI) funding, a project led by University College Dublin has developed necessary protocols for SARS-cov-2 testing to hospitals in the Ireland East Hospital Group based on Magnostics’ Si@Hi-Mag superparamagnetic beads. This reliable supply will help enable Magnostics Inc to meet testing requirements in Ireland, the EU, and the USA, and will provide important information for clinicians, planners, and policy-makers.

To detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19 infection, a very small number of RNA viral genomes must be isolated from the nasal swab. This is a stereotypical needle in the haystack problem where there are a very small number of viruses among tens of thousands of much larger cells. The key is to use Si@Hi-mag magnetic nanoparticles to capture the RNA from the complicated soup that makes up the virus lysate, which includes proteins, lipids, and other cellular components, and then use a powerful magnet to move and thus separate the magnetic nanoparticles. This allows a series of solutions to be used to rinse the RNA-nanoparticle complex and then release the RNA into a buffer that can be used for reverse transcription and quantitative detection with the polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

Using test samples from patients enrolled in the All Ireland Infectious Diseases Cohort, the team has proven that Si@Hi-mag beads can be used to extract viral RNA from clinical samples. This includes Lysis buffer, which inactivates and bursts open the virus, superparamagnetic nanoparticles, and a rare-earth magnet array for medium-throughput processing.

The project has produced reagents and materials to enable 40,000 tests for COVID-19 infection to hospitals in the East of Ireland.  Magnostics Ltd has developed the capacity to deliver reagents and materials to enable 15,000 tests per day.

This important demonstration forms the basis for Magnostics Ltd to develop a CE marked ‘lab-in-box’ kit for the medium throughput manual extraction of viral RNA from clinical samples.  This product will allow clinical laboratories to perform 400-600 extractions per day using existing infrastructure.

Source: Company Press Release