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A Quicker Way to Diagnose COVID-19: IBS Team Comes Up with New Technology to Diagnose COVID-19 within 4 Hours
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Korean researchers have developed new technology that can detect COVID-19 virus infections within 4 hours at a laboratory.

The team led by Lee Chang-joon, director of the Cognitive and Social Sciences Group at the Institute of Basic Science (IBS), announced on March 11 that they have secured a protocol that can detect the COVID-19 virus within four hours at a BBS2 facility by using the real-time gene amplification technology (rt-PCR). The cost for the diagnosis is 18,000 won per case.

The protocol presented by the team extracts a tissue sample (RNA) from the digestive system (pharyngeal) between a person's mouth and esophagus and converts it to DNA using real-time gene amplification technology and determine whether it is negative by comparing the DNA with those from a COVID-19 virus control group.

In this process, a primer that amplifies a specific DNA region of the novel coronavirus is essential. The team verified accuracy by creating a set of primer sequences. The team will release primer sequences when they are used for public purposes.

This primer can also be used to find out positive results. That is to say, researchers develop nine sets of primer sequences that can amplify DNA sites specific to the COVID-19 virus. If an actual test shows a positive response from four kinds of DNAs including a spike protein gene, this means that the subject is infected with the novel coronavirus. On the other hand, if all four sites show negative responses, the subject is not infected with the COVID-19.

The results were published in the online journal Experimental Neurobiology (March 11) of the Korean Society for Brain and Neural Sciences and the Korean Society of Neurodegenerative Disorder.

By Choi Moon-hee from BusinessKorea March 12, 2020