• Rapid, Ultrasensitive, and Quantitative Detection of SARS-CoV-2 Using Antisense Oligonucleotides Directed Electrochemical Biosensor Chip.

      Alafeef, Maha; Dighe, Ketan; Moitra, Parikshit; Pan, Dipanjan (American Chemical Society, 2020-10-20)
      A large-scale diagnosis of the severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is essential to downregulate its spread within as well as across communities and mitigate the current outbreak of the pandemic novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Herein, we report the development of a rapid (less than 5 min), low-cost, easy-to-implement, and quantitative paper-based electrochemical sensor chip to enable the digital detection of SARS-CoV-2 genetic material. The biosensor uses gold nanoparticles (AuNPs), capped with highly specific antisense oligonucleotides (ssDNA) targeting viral nucleocapsid phosphoprotein (N-gene). The sensing probes are immobilized on a paper-based electrochemical platform to yield a nucleic-acid-testing device with a readout that can be recorded with a simple hand-held reader. The biosensor chip has been tested using samples collected from Vero cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus and clinical samples. The sensor provides a significant improvement in output signal only in the presence of its target-SARS-CoV-2 RNA-within less than 5 min of incubation time, with a sensitivity of 231 (copies μL-1)-1 and limit of detection of 6.9 copies/μL without the need for any further amplification. The sensor chip performance has been tested using clinical samples from 22 COVID-19 positive patients and 26 healthy asymptomatic subjects confirmed using the FDA-approved RT-PCR COVID-19 diagnostic kit. The sensor successfully distinguishes the positive COVID-19 samples from the negative ones with almost 100% accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity and exhibits an insignificant change in output signal for the samples lacking a SARS-CoV-2 viral target segment (e.g., SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, or negative COVID-19 samples collected from healthy subjects). The feasibility of the sensor even during the genomic mutation of the virus is also ensured from the design of the ssDNA-conjugated AuNPs that simultaneously target two separate regions of the same SARS-CoV-2 N-gene.
    • Selective Naked-Eye Detection of SARS-CoV-2 Mediated by N Gene Targeted Antisense Oligonucleotide Capped Plasmonic Nanoparticles

      Moitra, P.; Alafeef, M.; Pan, D.; Frieman, M.B. (American Chemical Society, 2020)
      The current outbreak of the pandemic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) demands its rapid, convenient, and large-scale diagnosis to downregulate its spread within as well as across the communities. But the reliability, reproducibility, and selectivity of majority of such diagnostic tests fail when they are tested either to a viral load at its early representation or to a viral gene mutated during its current spread. In this regard, a selective "naked-eye" detection of SARS-CoV-2 is highly desirable, which can be tested without accessing any advanced instrumental techniques. We herein report the development of a colorimetric assay based on gold nanoparticles (AuNPs), when capped with suitably designed thiol-modified antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) specific for N-gene (nucleocapsid phosphoprotein) of SARS-CoV-2, could be used for diagnosing positive COVID-19 cases within 10 min from the isolated RNA samples. The thiol-modified ASO-capped AuNPs agglomerate selectively in the presence of its target RNA sequence of SARS-CoV-2 and demonstrate a change in its surface plasmon resonance. Further, the addition of RNaseH cleaves the RNA strand from the RNA-DNA hybrid leading to a visually detectable precipitate from the solution mediated by the additional agglomeration among the AuNPs. The selectivity of the assay has been monitored in the presence of MERS-CoV viral RNA with a limit of detection of 0.18 ng/?L of RNA having SARS-CoV-2 viral load. Thus, the current study reports a selective and visual "naked-eye" detection of COVID-19 causative virus, SARS-CoV-2, without the requirement of any sophisticated instrumental techniques.