Point of care diagnostics for COVID-19 detection are vital to assess infection quickly and at the source so appropriate measures can be taken. The loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assay has proven to be a reliable and simple protocol that can detect small amounts of viral RNA in patient samples (<10 genomes per µL)(Nagamine, Hase, and Notomi 2002). Recently, Rabe and Cepko at Harvard published a sensitive and simple protocol for COVID-19 RNA detection in saliva using an optimized LAMP assay (Rabe and Cepko, 2020). This LAMP protocol has the benefits of being simple, requiring no specialized equipment; rapid, requiring less than an hour from sample collection to readout; and cheap, costing around $1 per reaction using commercial reagents. The pH based colorimetric readout also leaves little ambiguity and is intuitive. However, a shortfall in many nucleic acid-based methods for detection in saliva samples has been the variability in output due to the presence of inhibitory substances in saliva. Centrifugation to separate the reaction inhibitors from inactivated sample was shown to be an effective way to ensure reliable LAMP amplification. However, a centrifuge capable of safely achieving the necessary speeds of 2000 RPM for several minutes often costs hundreds of dollars and requires a power supply. We present here an open hardware solution- Handyfuge - that can be assembled with readily available components for the cost of <5 dollars a unit and could be used together with the LAMP assay for point of care detection of COVID-19 RNA from saliva. The device is then validated using the LAMP protocol from Rabe and Cepko. With the use of insulated coolers for reagent supply chain and delivery, the assay presented can be completed without the need for electricity or any laboratory scale infrastructure.
Li, E., Larson, A., Kothari, A., & Prakash, M. (2020, July 1). Handyfuge-LAMP: Low-cost and electricity-free centrifugation for isothermal SARS-CoV-2 detection in saliva. MedRxiv. medRxiv. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.06.30.20143255