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New CRISPR test for COVID-19 Could be a Simple At-Home Diagnostic Test According to Scientists

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The innovative genetic technique, known as CRISPR, has the ability to cure thousands of inherited diseases and could also be used for Covid-19 diagnostic testing, scientists announced on Tuesday to STAT. CRISPR or “clusters of regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats” technology is a powerful tool for editing genomes. It enables researchers to efficiently alter DNA sequences and modify gene function. Now researchers are targeting the genes of SARS-CoV-2.

Biologist Feng Zhang of the McGovern Institute at MIT and the Broad Institute teamed up to help provide more testing available for the coronavirus. The team repurposed the genome-editing tool CRISPR into a test that can identify the coronavirus with a swab or saliva sample in as few as 100 coronavirus particles. The technique is referred to as a “one-pot” method that works in just one test tube and does not require other chemicals or reagents. The shortage of these chemicals and reagents has prevented widespread Covid-19 testing available in the U.S. The results of the test are delivered in about an hour and have been highly accurate in preliminary studies, according to Zhang. Zhang and his colleagues, led by McGovern’s Jonathan Gootenberg and Omar Abudayyeh, released the protocol on their STOPCovid.science website.

Sherlock Testing in One Pot or known as STOP, builds on Zhang’s 2017 CRISPR device called  Sherlock. Like the more familiar, genome-editing versions of CRISPR, Sherlock starts with a guide molecule that concentrates on a specific stretch of DNA or RNA, which makes up the genome of the new coronavirus. The enzyme called AapCas12b, from the bacterium Alicyclobacillus acidophilus, cuts the RNA in a way that produces a fluorescent signal detectable like in-home pregnancy tests that discover the presence of a pregnancy-related hormone.

MIT scientists tested STOP on nasopharyngeal swabs from COVID-19 patients and on saliva samples from healthy people where the new coronavirus was added to study the effects. The results produced from STOP had 100% specificity, and it never “found” the coronavirus if the microbe wasn’t present. The test had 97% sensitivity, which meant if the virus was present, the test only missed it only 3% of the time. The current PCR test misses up to 30% of cases, scientists have reported.

The test is yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration and remains to be only for research purposes. According to STAT, Zhang and his colleagues recently had a meeting with FDA officials to review further details of approval. They discussed what the team would need to achieve to receive an “emergency use authorization” that would permit clinical use of the test. 

The test is “it is still early in the process,” according to Zhang. He and his colleagues are confident that their potential partners could transform the test in a cartridge-like device. The test would be similar to a pregnancy test, which could be conducted at health care provider offices, clinical sites, and even at home, providing high accuracy to identify COVID-19 cases. 

The scientists are currently in discussions with the Gates Foundation about issuing testing kits, which could help in places where there is not enough capacity for centralized testing

Sources:

  1. https://www.livescience.com/58790-crispr-explained.html
  2. https://www.statnews.com/2020/05/05/crispr-covid-19-test-could-be-simple-cheap-at-home-diagnostic/
  3. https://www.stopcovid.science/
  4. https://www.statnews.com/2017/04/13/crispr-diagnostic-tests-sherlock/
  5. https://www.statnews.com/2020/04/16/ct-scans-alternative-to-inaccurate-coronavirus-tests/

Covid-19

New Study Finds Children Can Spread COVID-19 as Much as Adults

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A new study from South Korea has discovered that children between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread COVID-19 just as much as adults. The extensive study, published by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, states that household transmission of the virus “was high” for those between 10 and 19 years old

Household transmission rates were lower for patients aged 0 to 9. Researchers examined reports for 59,073 contacts of 5,706 coronavirus patients in South Korea between January 20 and March 27. Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told The New York Times that this study is one of the best to date concerning the coronavirus and transmission of the disease.

The results arrive as school officials across the nation determine whether or not to reopen schools for the upcoming year. The South Korean study said that the researchers’ findings of coronavirus transmission during school reopenings emphasize the need for a time-sensitive epidemiologic study to safeguard public health policy.

The study also indicated the effectiveness of contact tracing, especially in light of future waves of SARS-CoV-2, that will rely heavily upon social distancing and personal hygiene as primary factors for preventative measures. Awareness of the role hygiene and infection control measure plays is vital to reducing the household spread, and using masks in the home for family members who are at high risk for contracting the coronavirus needs further research.

Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, told The New York Times, that there will be transmission rates of the virus if schools reopen and include that in plans for preventing and limiting the contraction of the virus. 

Sources: 

  1. https://www.health.com/syndication/children-aged-10-19-spread-coronavirus-just-as-much-as-adults-new-study-finds
  2. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/06/27/young-californians-attribute-in-coronavirus-spike/
  3. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/10/20-1315_article
  4. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/ashish-jha/
  5. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/18/health/coronavirus-children-schools.html
  6. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/04/02/is-social-distancing-helping-californians/
  7. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/06/17/how-to-fix-this-type-of-n95-mask-to-limit-the-spread-of-the-coronavirus/
  8. https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/about-us/cidrap-staff/michael-t-osterholm-phd-mph

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Covid-19

Video Laryngoscope Released in the U.S. for Faster Intubation During COVID-19

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Healthcare facilities worldwide are on the front lines during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by providing treatment for patients. Those who are in critical condition in intensive care units need intubation, but this process can be complicated by obtaining an airway precisely. Each patient varies; some can take a minute or more during intubation, potentially leading to fatal consequences. 

Nihon Kohden is launching its NK AWS-S200 video laryngoscope in the United States under the Pentax brand outside the United States. This device is designed to achieve intubation faster and on the first try. Furthermore, the company claims the product “can help protect clinicians while intubating patients suffering from COVID-19 or other respiratory infections”.

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The NK AWS-S20 features a high-definition color display targeting cross-hairs that help deliver the working end into the airway. A functioning channel allows for the endotracheal tube to be pushed while viewing the airway properly. 

There is a built-in-channel to guide the endotracheal tube and continuously observe the intubation process. The video laryngoscope can decrease the risk of oral and pharyngeal injury, such as mild mucosal bleeding and sore throat.

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Nihon Kohden mentioned that the NK AWS-S200  allows healthcare professionals to intubate challenging patients quicker than other competitor’s devices. The company expressed the device can help clinicians intubate patients with even difficult airways in  22.9 seconds, well below the 30-second threshold suggested for intubations and up to 33 seconds faster than other devices. 

Genoveffa Devers, DNP, MSHA, RN, CPHQ, VP of clinical and strategic alliances at Nihon Kohden stated the importance of tools to establish an airway quickly and efficiently as possible for healthcare providers. She added that the NK AWS-S200 video laryngoscope is designed to attain this while maintaining clinicians’ safety by limiting contact trying to visualize the vocal cords and larynx. 

Using the firm’s disposable NK PBLADE blades, which are available in four different sizes, help clinicians reduce cross-contamination between patients and those providing treatment.

In addition, when administering CPR, the video laryngoscope can be used to intubate patients without delaying life-saving treatment. 

Sources: 

  1. https://www.medgadget.com/2020/07/nihon-kohden-releases-video-laryngoscope-in-u-s-for-faster-intubation-during-covid.html
  2. https://www.webmd.com/lung/intubation-explained
  3. https://www.nihonkohden.com/

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Covid-19

‘COVID Symptom Study’ App Tracks Various COVID-19 Symptoms

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A new smartphone COVID-19 app that tracks symptoms has gathered information from more than 4 million people worldwide and gives doctors the ability to examine the different symptoms patients are experiencing with the virus. The mixture of various symptoms people are exhibiting with COVID-19 is unexpected.

According to Dr. Troy Pennington of Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, there are various forms of COVID-19 symptoms in patients. The application is called the COVID Symptom Study, was designed by healthcare professionals and scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital, The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, King’s College London and Stanford University School of Medicine, working beside ZOE, a health science company. Users can input their health information and get statistics on those participating around their region. 

Researchers grouped patients into six different clusters. The first cluster of patients are those experiencing mild symptoms who had flu-like symptoms, according to Pennington. The symptoms included body aches, possibly a sore throat, mild shortness of breath, and mostly mild symptoms, but no fever.

The second cluster of patients displayed similar symptoms, but with a fever. The third group of patients included gastrointestinal issues. Pennington added that there was a GI component with mild diarrhea or even an upset stomach. 

The fourth cluster of patients added severe fatigue, while the fifth added confusion as part of their symptoms. The sixth cluster consisted of patients experiencing the most severe symptoms, including abdominal and respiratory problems. This group had all of the common attributes of flu-like illness, but it had a very significant GI component with persistent abdominal pain and diarrhea. 

Pennington stated some of his patients at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center had exhibited even more peculiar symptoms such as unusual rashes and rashes that also looked like hives or chickenpox. Another patient was complaining of number fingers and toes. 

According to the study, the only common symptoms in all six clusters were headaches and loss of smell.

The COVID Symptom Study app has allowed physicians to get a closer look at COVID-19 symptoms patients experience to help healthcare professionals identify and treat patients accordingly. 

Sources: 

  1. https://abc7.com/covid-19-covid-symptoms-coronavirus-is-upset-stomach-and-diarrhea-a-symptom-of/6345955/
  2. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/07/11/pink-eye-symptom-of-covid-19/
  3. https://covid.joinzoe.com/us
  4. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/05/14/how-does-covid-19-affect-the-lungs/

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