“The COVID-19 pandemic has created an urgent need for individualized diagnostic tools that can recognize the presence of the virus as well as the particular strain,” says John Chaput, UCI professor of pharmaceutical sciences.” (Credit: Steve Zylius/UCI)

A COVID-19 test detects and identifies specific SARS-CoV-2 variants with 100 percent accuracy. The RNA-encoded viral nucleic acid analytic reporter correctly determined the alpha, gamma, delta, epsilon, and omicron genetic mutations in nasopharyngeal clinical samples. This ability could enable healthcare providers to make personalized treatment decisions for improved patient care.

The team analyzed 34 clinical samples collected in early, mid- and late 2021 at the UCI Medical Center from patients experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. The RNA was isolated from the nasopharyngeal swabs, and the correct SARS-CoV-2 variant was identified in every case.

Although Revealr was developed as a COVID detection assay, the researchers say the next step is to expand to other respiratory tract infections that share symptoms with COVID-19, like influenza. “The ability to distinguish single-point mutation in a DNA or RNA genetic sequence makes it ideally suited for any genotyping, including cancer,” says John Chaput, UCI professor of pharmaceutical sciences. “Beyond human health, Revealr could find use in forensic or agricultural applications that currently rely on DNA sequencing.”