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New dPCR Platform Covid-19 Testing Solutions for Wastewater

Editor: MA Alexander Stark

Qiagen announced the addition of kits for wastewater testing to its growing portfolio of Covid-19 products. The use of dPCR in the worldwide surveillance of Covid-19 is an additional step towards making digital PCR (dPCR) an affordable and standard instrument for a host of applications in molecular-testing laboratories worldwide.

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The new dPCR platform detects Sars-Cov-2 in wastewater.
The new dPCR platform detects Sars-Cov-2 in wastewater.
(Source: Qiagen)

In order to detect Covid-19 in wastewater, Qiagen added a new dPCR platform to its range of Covid-19 testing kits. The new kits are designed for use on the uniquely fast and easy-to-use series of QIAcuity instruments based on digital polymerase chain reaction (dPCR) technology. It precisely quantifies even minimal quantities of DNA and RNA in research tests for viruses, bacteria or genetic disorders, including the rarest of cancer mutations.

The precision of the kit provides a valuable tool for use in testing wastewater for Sars-Cov-2. The application offers a cost-effective way to survey transmission dynamics of entire communities, avoiding the biases of other epidemiological indicators like deaths as a proportion of known cases or of the total population. In a trial run with the new high-throughput QIAcuity Eight, the company was able to successfully detect new variants of Sars-Cov-2 in wastewater samples.

Covid-19 surveillance through wastewater testing allows public authorities to collect data from broad sweeps of the population, including people who do not feature in public-health statistics because they lack access to healthcare. Potentially, surveillance testing can reveal infection and mutation dynamics earlier than diagnostic testing, providing public-health officials with near-real-time information on disease prevalence.

The test kit harnesses the greater accuracy of digital PCR over traditional quantitative real-time PCR while taking a quantum leap over the cumbersome methods of existing dPCR devices. QIAcuity uses nanoplate technology to disperse a sample over thousands of partitions and then simultaneously read the reaction in each one. Samples can be prepared and analyzed in two hours rather than six.

The solution is available in three versions — the QIAcuity One (one plate), Four (four plates) and Eight (eight plates). Key features and benefits include fully automated workflow with a flexible sample throughput, a scalable format of one-, four- and eight-plate instruments, and the ability to simultaneously detect up to five target sequences. This allows the largest machine, QIAcuity Eight, to process up to 1248 samples in one working day.