Thermo Fisher Scientific announced that it has teamed with Helix and Rosalind, Inc. on a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-supported project to develop a new SARS-CoV-2 genotyping method allowing for more rapid and cost-effective identification of virus variants than current next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based methods.
The collaborators used Rosalind’s cloud-based data analytics platform to create a centralized tool that labs can use to aggregate and analyze the data in a real-time dashboard format offering a snapshot of the most current virus strains circulating the country. Thermo Fisher supplied the tests by updating its TaqMan SARS-CoV-2 Mutation Panel research-use only assay to include the four markers capable of detecting the Omicron and Delta variants with high precision. Population genomics and viral surveillance company Helix validated the technology.
Widespread adoption of genotyping-based identification would be much faster, not to mention cheaper since it would enable labs to reduce costs for strain subtyping required for NGS, allowing for classifying a high percentage of positive samples and provide information in just two or three days. Samples that can’t be assigned to a known variant via the genotyping approach would then become prime suspects for new variants. Large numbers of such samples would send up a red flag that a new variant might be emerging and give test and vaccine makers time to analyze and adjust their products accordingly.