Detecting Coronavirus Using Mass Spectrometer

  • Using mass spectrometer, researchers at the Delhi-based Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have been able
    • To detect novel coronavirus with 95% sensitivity and 100% specificity with respect to RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction).
  • Detection of the virus takes less than three minutes; time from sample preparation to detection takes less than 30 minutes.
  • The new method can directly detect the virus without amplifying the RNA for detection, as is the case with RT-PCR.
  • The new method relies on detecting the presence of two peptides which are unique to SARS-CoV-2 virus and not seen in any other coronavirus or other viruses.
  • Though seven peptides were found to be unique to SARS-CoV-2, only two peptides are used for quick virus detection.
  • One of the peptides is the spike protein and the other is a replicase protein.
  • The unique peptides were seen in over 54,000 genomic sequences of the SARS-CoV-2 virus deposited in a public database (GISAID) as on July 1.
  • The mass spectrometer is expensive but it would cost only about ₹100 per test, and so cheaper than RT-PCR.