CRISPR-Based Approaches for Efficient and Accurate Detection of SARS-CoV-2

Wancun Zhang, PhD; Kangbo Liu, MD; Pin Zhang, MD; Weyland Cheng, PhD; Linfei Li, MD; Fan Zhang, MD; Zhidan Yu, PhD; Lifeng Li, PhD; Xianwei Zhang, PhD


Lab Med. 2021;52(2):116-121. 

In This Article

Highly Specific Detection of SARS-CoV-2

Highly specific detection of SARS-CoV-2 is essential for the control of the pandemic. Hou et al[11] tested their CRISPR-nCoV technique with DNA from human cells and a panel of microbes including bacteria commonly found in respiratory infections, human coronaviruses, other viruses commonly found in respiratory infections, and other bacteria. None of these interference specimens triggered a false positive reaction. Their CRISPR-nCoV approach showed a sensitivity of 100% by detecting all 52 SARS-CoV-2 positive results. No false positives were found in any of the 62 negative results, including all the patients infected with human coronavirus, suggesting CRISPR-nCoV as a promising molecular assay for SARS-CoV-2 detection with great sensitivity and specificity.[11]

The CRISPR-based DETECTR lateral flow assay (SARS-CoV-2 DETECTR) developed by Broughton et al[16] provides a visual and faster alternative to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention SARS-CoV-2 real-time RT-PCR assay. In their study, 11 respiratory swab specimens collected from 6 patients who were PCR-positive COVID-19 and 12 nasopharyngeal swab specimens from patients with influenza and common human seasonal coronavirus infections and healthy donors were assessed by the SARS-CoV-2 DETECTR. Relative to the RT-PCR results, the SARS-CoV-2 DETECTR was 90% sensitive and 100% specific for detection of the coronavirus in the respiratory swab specimens, corresponding to positive and negative predictive values of 100% and 91.7%, respectively.[16] A recent study by Patchsung et al[43] showed that the SHERLOCK assay has 100% specificity and 97% sensitivity in detecting SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, the CRISPR-based approach is expected to be used for specific point-of-care diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2.