New genetic reference material increases accuracy of COVID-19 diagnostic kits.

Lim Chang-won Reporter() | Posted : July 14, 2020, 13:57 | Updated : July 14, 2020, 13:57

[Yonhap Photo]

SEOUL -- Researchers have developed a genetic reference material containing 90 percent of SARS-CoV-2 genomic information that can increase the reliability and accuracy of COVID-19 diagnostic kits. The standard material can be used instantly in South Korea's home-made diagnostic kits which have gained popularity abroad.

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a molecular biology technique to amplify and detect DNA and RNA sequences. PCR is highly sensitive and requires minimal template for detection and amplification of specific sequences. The real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method that amplifies specific DNA samples has been approved and used widely in South Korea.

The RT-PCR method combines the primer substance of diagnostic reagent with the unique DNA of SARS-CoV-2. Each diagnostic kit has a different standard value, sometimes causing erroneous results.

Researchers from the state-run Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS), a state metrology institute and the Center for Convergent Research of Emerging Virus Infection (CEVI) have used a reverse transcript digital PCR method to develop the standard substance that can respond quickly to mutations.

The method can measure the absolute amount of genes, so it can accurately estimate the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the sample and the number of viruses. The global market for COVID-19 diagnostic kits is expected to reach $44.4 billion by the end of this year, according to Market Study Report, a global market research firm.
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