This award is co-funded by the Systems and Synthetic Biology cluster in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences and the Biosensing Program in the Division of Chemical Bioengineering Environmental and Transport Systems.

The need for a rapid coronavirus test platform is critical for confronting the COVID-19 pandemic which is pervasive throughout the world at the moment. The current lab testing time for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, could be up to several days. The delays associated with such testing have already contributed to substantial lag times for diagnosis and data acquisition; therefore, urgent action is needed for the development of sensitive, rapid and simple-to-use platforms. The PI is developing one-pot sample-to-answer assay automated process that would detect the SARS coronavirus and yield information and process flows that prove to be generally informative for creating ergonomic point-of-care diagnostic platforms. The modular design of the method preserves rapid assay programmability for navigating constraints such as evolving viral genomes and low resource field deployment. Further translations of this foundational technology will aid detection efforts for other established and emerging pathogens such as Influenza and Dengue viruses. Development of the method involves both graduate and undergraduates students with research, development, marketing and commercialization efforts. Assays are being developed in conjunction with the University of Texas at Austin Freshman Research Initiative where undergraduate students from many backgrounds are involved in cutting edge research from their first days on campus

The Ellington Lab at the University of Texas at Austin and Fabrico Technology Inc. are developing a complete and rapid point-of-care detection system for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The system provides accurate detection of the virus in a test format that can be performed in both clinical and field settings. The SARS-CoV-2 assay uses multiplex loop-mediated isothermal amplification integrated with a sequence-parsing probe system designed using principles of oligonucleotide strand displacement and a Boolean network to compute an accurate positive readout only when all intended viral signatures are identified in a single reaction. The modular design preserves rapid assay programability for navigating both biological and logistical constraints such as evolving viral genomes and low resource field deployment.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB)
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David Rockcliffe
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University of Texas Austin
United States
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