Isothermal SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics: Tools for enabling distributed pandemic testing as a means of supporting safe reopenings

Pavana Khan, Lauren M. Aufdembrink, Aaron E. Engelhart

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, poses grave threats to both the global economy and health. The predominant diagnostic screens in use for SARS-CoV-2 detection are molecular techniques such as nucleic acid amplification tests. In this Review, we compare current and emerging isothermal diagnostic methods for COVID-19. We outline the molecular and serological techniques currently being used to detect SARS-CoV-2 infection, past or present, in patients. We also discuss ongoing research on isothermal techniques, CRISPR-mediated detection assays, and point-of-care diagnostics that have potential for use in SARS-CoV-2 detection. Large-scale viral testing during a global pandemic presents unique challenges, chief among them the simultaneous need for testing supplies, durable equipment, and personnel in many regions worldwide, with each of these regions possessing testing needs that vary as the pandemic progresses. The low-cost isothermal technologies described in this Review provide a promising means by which to address these needs and meet the global need for testing of symptomatic individuals as well as provide a possible means for routine testing of asymptomatic individuals, providing a potential means of safely enabling reopenings and early monitoring of outbreaks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2861-2880
Number of pages20
JournalACS Synthetic Biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 20 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NASA Contract 80NSSC18K1139 under the Center for Origin of Life (to A.E.E). We thank Andrew Ellington (University of Texas), Nathan Tanner (New England Biolabs), and members of the Engelhart and Adamala laboratories for helpful discussions. Several figures in this manuscript were created using

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Chemical Society.


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