Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Virus Enrichment and RNA Extraction for Efficient Diagnostic Screening of Pooled Nasopharyngeal or Saliva Samples for Dilutions Up to 1:100
ABSTRACT: As COVID-19 transmission control measures are gradually being lifted, a sensitive and rapid diagnostic method for large-scale screening could prove essential for monitoring population infection rates. However, many rapid workflows for SARS-CoV-2 detection and diagnosis are not amenable to the analysis of large-volume samples. Previously, our group demonstrated a technique for SARS-CoV-2 nanoparticle-facilitated enrichment and enzymatic lysis from clinical samples in under 10 min. Here, this sample preparation strategy was applied to pooled samples originating from nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs eluted in viral transport medium (VTM) and saliva samples diluted up to 1:100. This preparation method was coupled with conventional RT-PCR on gold-standard instrumentation for proof-of-concept. Additionally, real-time PCR analysis was conducted using an in-house, ultra-rapid real-time microfluidic instrument paired with an experimentally optimized rapid protocol. Following pooling and extraction from clinical samples, average cycle threshold (CT) values from resultant eluates generally increased as the pooling dilution factor increased; further, results from a double-blind study demonstrated 100% concordance with clinical values. In addition, preliminary data obtained from amplification of eluates prepared by this technique and analyzed using our portable, ultra-rapid real-time microfluidic PCR amplification instrument showed progress toward a streamlined method for rapid SARS-CoV-2 analysis from pooled samples.