Rapid Screening Process Being Created in Rutgers U–Camden Research Lab

The fight against the coronavirus is underway in a Rutgers University–Camden research laboratory, where chemistry professor Jinglin Fu is working to develop a mechanism to rapidly detect viral RNA for potential diagnosis of COVID-19.

“Right now, the diagnosis of COVID-19 is limited by the slow speed of traditional polymerase chain reaction and the inaccuracy of antibody test,” said Fu. “Our goal is to accelerate that timetable.”

The nucleic acid assay can be simply adapted to detect specific DNA/RNA sequences of several diseases, including coronavirus and MRSA, and other transmitting infectious diseases in active in the United States.

“The convenience of being quickly customizable and adaptable will be of value for mass screening and early intervention for future pandemics,” says Fu.

According to the Rutgers–Camden researcher, the successful outcome of the research would handle various types of swabs (oral, throat, and nasal) and blood sample with a simple procedure and a rapid viral RNA read-out. The technology under development can lead to a diagnosis product for point-of-care use by health care providers to screen for emerging infectious diseases.

“This development is at the early stage,” explains Fu. “We are now testing the sensor accuracy for detecting RNA segments of COVID-19 viruses and have not yet detected real virus sample.”

The Rutgers University–Camden research lab includes the contributions of graduate and undergraduate students and is building on a patented technology that was selected for NSF I-Corps last fall. The coronavirus-related research continues with only one researcher in the lab at a time and is conducted as part of the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology at Rutgers University–Camden.