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New Compact, Rapid Testing Solution for COVID-19

BiOptic PCR Lab in a BoxTM Adds COVID-19 Rapid Test

Most viral detection methods around the world are using real-time PCR, which requires highly trained personnel and can create data that is difficult to interpret. A real-time PCR lab or even standard PCR offers great flexibility, but also requires a fair amount of equipment. BiOptic has created a Lab in a BoxTM that utilizes a compact 8 place thermal cycler and their compact Qamp MiniTM CGE (Capillary Gel Electrophoresis) system. The Mini CGE system replaces the gel rig, power supply, and digital documentation systems used in a standard PCR lab.

This can be adapted to a variety of assays in the field with simple operation — and has added COVID-19 to the list of assays it can perform.   

PCR Lab in a Box Steps

Figure 1. Quick and easy steps to get results at high sensitivity, confirming the real-time PCR results.


Introducing: The BiOptic Lab in a Box

BiOptic, Inc., a Taiwan-based R&D company, has developed a total solution for the problems associated with traditional real-time PCR systems (as shown in Figure 1.) Their Lab in a Box includes:  

  • Direct RT-PCR reagents;
  • Qamp Mini PCR thermal cycler for 8 samples, with a pre-programmed chip; and,
  • Portable Capillary Gel Electrophoresis instrument, Qsep1-LITE. 

The test utilizes Direct RT-PCR reagents, eliminating the need for nucleic acid purification steps. The sample is added directly to the lysis buffer and PCR is performed without the isolation steps. For COVID-19, the sample is a buccal or nasal swab. The swab is mixed with lysis buffer, and 2ul of the swab lysis buffer is used for the initial PCR step.

The PCR system uses a programmable chip and operates with the push of a button. This provides a unique solution for rapid pathogen detection with reproducible results. Operation of the Qsep1-LITE is easy and does not require highly technical staff. The system is being used to resolve false positives and to reconfirm positive results of real-time PCR systems, since the platform has much higher sensitivity and provides better detection capabilities.


Application of the BiOptic Detection Platform for COVID-19 Testing

BiOptic’s Detection Platform has been used through our collaborator in China for COVID-19 testing application. With limited samples, the results showed BiOptic’s test is more sensitive in picking up a true positive sample than other Real-Time PCR testing methods (see Figure 2, Images A and B). The test is also much simpler to perform.

To use the BiOptic Detection Platform:

  • A swab is mixed with lysis buffer. Direct RT-PCR amplification from the lysis buffer eliminates RNA extractions and purifications.

  • Reverse Transcriptase PCR Amplifications are run on the Qamp Mini PCR System. There is no need for costly or highly technical Real-Time PCR instruments.

  • PCR products generated by the push of a button on the Qamp Mini are then analyzed by Capillary Gel Electrophoresis (CGE) with the fully automated Qsep1-LITE Analysis System. The Qsep1-LITE runs up to 8 samples at a time and provides data that can be easily interpreted.

In a couple of cases, Real-Time PCR assays were run and showed questionable results, such as false negatives. Analysis of the same sample using BiOptic’s technology demonstrated that COVID-19 RNA sequences were present in these samples as shown in the CGE tracings below (see Figure 2, Images A and B). Results clearly indicate this technology can be more sensitive than standard Real-Time PCR assays.

Both images demonstrate the sensitivity of the BiOptic detection platform. The Qsep Series (Qsep1-LITE) was used to analyze samples that were determined as negative results by real-time PCR. The signal peak can easily be seen in the corresponding target area. This advantage can effectively reduce the issue of real-time PCR false negatives and each analysis takes only 3 minutes.

Higher detection sensitivity results produced by Qsep1-LITE capillary gel electrophoresis system.

Figure 2. Higher detection sensitivity results produced by Qsep1-LITE capillary gel electrophoresis system.

Image A: COVID-19 Detection Kit from Company A.
Red line: Positive control
Blue line: Negative control
Green line: Reconfirm negative sample no. 1
Yellow line: Reconfirm negative sample no. 2
The red arrow indicates the amplicon signals detected by the Qsep series.

Higher detection sensitivity results produced by Qsep1-LITE capillary gel electrophoresis system.

Figure 2. Higher detection sensitivity results produced by Qsep1-LITE capillary gel electrophoresis system.

Image B: COVID-19 Detection Kit from Company B.
Red line: Positive control
Blue line: Negative control
Green line: Reconfirm negative sample no. 1


Advantages of the BiOptic Detection Platform

The BiOptic PCR Lab in a Box setup for COVID-19 testing is pictured below in Figure 3. Lysis buffers, PCR primers and reagents, Qamp Mini PCR Thermal Cycler, and the Qsep1-LITE CGE Analysis system are all included in a case that can be loaded into the trunk of any car or SUV. Essentially, is a mobile PCR lab that is easier to use and more accurate than results from traditional agarose gels.

Field Portable Detection Platform

Figure 3. Field Portable Detection Platform

COVID-19 is the latest addition to the assays this system can perform. The BiOptic platform has been used for detection of other pathogens, as well as genetic screening of agriculture products, and offers a compact, high performing, easy-to-use flexible lab that can be deployed in the field.

In sum, advantages of the BiOptic Detection Platform are:

  • No DNA/RNA Extraction needed, saving 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Application Specific Qamp Mini PCR with one click providing 8-sample runs.
  • Post-PCR analysis with Qsep1-LITE CGE System in less than 7 min.
  • Multiple Genes analyzed in one reaction for Multiplex Direct RT-PCR.
  • High Detection Sensitivity with a validation platform for Real-Time PCR.
  • Non-invasive because no blood samples are required.
  • Cost Effective and Field Portable.

BiOptic’s compact detection platform can provide fast, accurate and cost-effective results which should be suitable for decentralized testing application of COVID-19.


MIDSCI Offers Simpler, Faster Field Testing Solutions

MIDSCI helps scientific researchers stock their laboratories with the best equipment and research supplies, including the BiOptic Detection Platform. And we’ve got the customer service team you need to feel confident in your purchase.

BiOptic’s Detection Platform has a proven track record. If you need more data, a demo, or general information, MIDSCI is here to help. Contact us today to get started!

Submit a request online, call us toll-free at 1 (800) 227-9997 or send an email to tech@midsci.com.


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Disclaimer: Much of the content on MIDSCI.com contains data gathered by medical and scientific experts and should be considered for informational purposes only. Methods described and supplies listed in these articles may be dangerous and should only be handled by qualified professionals.

Under no circumstances shall MIDSCI or its affiliates, partners, suppliers, or licensors be liable for any indirect, incidental, consequential, special or exemplary damages arising out of or in connection with your use of this information or products. The limitations will apply even if the above stated information fails its essential purpose.


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