Researchers Advance CRISPR-based Diagnostic Tool

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The team of researchers advanced the SHERLOCK diagnostic tool to make it easier to detect with the naked eye, using paper test, on February 15, 2018.

The group of scientist from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who first developed the CRISPR-based diagnostic tool called SHERLOCK, has enhanced its features to a miniature paper test, allowing results to be visible by the naked eye. The newly developed test does not require expensive equipment.

This process is highly inexpensive, rapid, and highly sensitive, it displays results for a single genetic signature, borrowed from the visual cues widely seen in pregnancy tests. Once the paper strip is dipped into a processed sample, a line appears, indicating whether the target molecule was detected or not.

This new feature increases accuracy and sensitivity of the target in a sample and tests for multiple targets at once. The work, led by, has the potential for a transformative effect on research and global public health.

Feng Zhang, lead author said, “SHERLOCK provides an inexpensive, easy-to-use, and sensitive diagnostic method for detecting nucleic acid material — and that can mean a virus, tumor DNA, and many other targets. The SHERLOCK improvements now give us even more diagnostic information and put us closer to a tool that can be deployed in real-world applications.”

The researchers claim that this tool has several applications such as detecting cell-free tumor DNA in blood samples from lung cancer patients and detecting synthetic Zika and Dengue virus simultaneously, in addition to several others.

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