An international team of researchers has developed an innovative method for identifying and quantifying variant B.1.1.7 (alpha) SARS-CoV-2 using a wastewater epidemiological study.
Scientists from the Interdisciplinary Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Research Group in Singapore onsite with collaborators from Biobot Analytics, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have successfully developed an innovative molecular search method for SARS-CoV B.1.1.7 (Alpha) variant -2. It will allow you to quickly and inexpensively monitor other variants of a new type of coronavirus in wastewater.
Wastewater monitoring helps to quickly and unobtrusively track the spread of COVID-19. Additional information allows health authorities to track the pandemic at the community level. More recently, SARS-CoV-2 virus fragments have been detected in residential areas in Singapore as part of a proactive wastewater surveillance program. This information, along with control testing, allowed the country’s Ministry of Health to respond quickly to the situation.
However, detecting variants of the coronavirus through wastewater surveillance is less common due to problems with existing technologies. Next-generation sequencing for wastewater monitoring is time consuming and expensive. The tests also lack sensitivity. An international team of scientists in a new study sought to tackle this problem.
In a study published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters, scientists explain an innovative molecular detection method based on allele-specific RT-qPCR that detects and quantifies variant B.1.1.7 (Alpha). The developed assay, tested and validated on wastewater samples from 19 US localities, is capable of reliably detecting and quantifying low levels of variant B.1.1.7 (Alpha) with low cross-reactivity and in proportions of variants up to 1% against a background of mixed SARS viruses -CoV-2.
A method aimed at protein spike mutations that predict variant B.1.1.7 (Alpha) can be implemented using commercially available RT-qPCR protocols.