In an article appearing in Nature Biomedical Engineering, a team of scientists from the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and UCLA School of Engineering report real-world results on SwabSeq, a high-throughput testing platform that uses sequencing to test thousands of samples at a time to detect COVID-19. They were able to perform more than 80,000 tests in less than two months, with the test showing extremely high sensitivity and specificity.
SwabSeq uses sample-specific molecular barcodes to simultaneously analyze thousands of samples for the presence or absence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. SwabSeq was granted FDA Emergency Use Authorization in October and is currently deployed at UCLA in a high-complexity CLIA laboratory, which has performed over 150,000 tests since December 2020. SwabSeq is a flexible protocol and can rapidly scale up testing for novel pathogens, including COVID-19 and future emerging viruses.
“We have optimized SwabSeq to prioritize scale and low cost, key factors that are missing from current COVID-19 diagnostics,” the authors write.
“These results demonstrate the potential of SwabSeq to be used for SARS-CoV-2 testing on an unprecedented scale,” said Dr. Valerie Arboleda, Assistant Professor and lead scientist on the project. “SwabSeq offers a potential solution to the need for population-wide testing to stem the pandemic.” In the months since, the team has continued to use the test, and as of this date has performed more than 150,000 tests.
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