Twist Bioscience, a provider of synthetic DNA and Biotia, a health tech company spun out of Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech, have launched a new assay for sequencing and surveillance of Covid-19.

The companies have developed the SARS-CoV-2 Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) Assay, as an end-to-end solution for the quantitative detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The research-use only (RUO) assay uses nasopharyngeal (NP), oropharyngeal (OP), anterior nasal and mid-turbinate nasal swabs, along with nasopharyngeal wash, nasal aspirates and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) specimens from individuals.

Deploying highly sensitive nucleic acid hybridisation capture-based technology, the assay is developed for use in detection, characterisation, and monitoring of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The new NGS-based assay utilises Twist Bioscience’s capabilities to quickly develop virus-specific panels by DNA synthesis and data analysis software and reporting capabilities of Biotia.

NGS-based SARS-CoV-2 assay validated on a NextSeq sequencer

According to the company, most of the SARS-CoV-2 tests based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) would only identify limited genetic markers of the virus.

In a recent study, which compared performance of three different available NGS library preparation kits, confirmed that results from hybridisation capture is effective across all sequences in a sample, compared to PCR-based NGS assays.

The NGS-based SARS-CoV-2 assay was validated on a NextSeq sequencer and is designed to identify all SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid sequences, to facilitate the surveillance of changes in genetic sequence of the virus.

The diagnostic solution was validated on 120 clinical samples, and confirmed that the SARS-CoV-2 NGS assay run on the COVID-DX Software could be used to detect viral RNA in laboratory research settings.

Biotia CEO and co-founder Niamh O’Hara said: “We are fortunate to be in a position where we can devote our time and resources to fight this global pandemic.

“This novel and insightful Covid-19 solution is an important step to make NGS-based infectious disease surveillance more widely available and to advance Covid-19 research and control.”