Qiagen, Hilden, Germany, announced plans to launch a novel straightforward approach to viral RNA epidemiology that will significantly simplify and accelerate PCR analysis and remove key testing bottlenecks for SARS-CoV-2 and other RNA viruses.

Qiagen’s innovative QIAprep&amp Viral RNA UM Kit combines a liquid-based sample preparation step completed in only two minutes with real-time PCR detection in a streamlined workflow that can be automated with standard lab equipment for any throughput, any assay, and any reaction need from single to multiplex testing. The kit, which uses the most common transport media such as Universal Transport Media (UTM) as the starting material, includes both sample extraction components and optimized PCR reagents for only one procedure.

The streamlined workflow takes under one hour to deliver a result, compared to approximately three hours for standard extraction-based quantitative PCR processes, and can handle up to 2,600 samples per eight-hour shift per cycler. As a result, labs can significantly accelerate the time to result and the frequency of viral testing. With only three small pipette tips needed per sample, the kit keeps plastic usage to a minimum, while providing significant cost savings by reducing reagent use and labor utilization.

Initial studies run by select public health research institutions have shown that the level of detection of the new QIAprep&amp Viral RNA UM Kit, when used with their assay, is similar to or better than regular PCR workflows, and that performance compares to standard public health protocols of the US Centers of Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and others that use the gold standard for sample extraction.

“We are excited to launch the first integrated liquid-based sample preparation and amplification method for testing of viral RNA with any assay, including SARS-CoV-2,” says Thomas Schweins, PhD, MSc, senior vice president of the Life Sciences Business Area at Qiagen. “Unlike other products, QIAprep&amp does not eliminate the sample preparation step at the expense of performance. Instead, it streamlines the gold standard in sample preparation set by Qiagen to a process completed in under two minutes to enable an immediate, fast real-time PCR run on any cycler that delivers results in under one hour. We are planning to ramp up the production capacities later in 2020 to levels that ensure a guaranteed supply and address effectively the challenge of long PCR turnaround times that are slowing down the frequency of testing.”

The QIAprep&amp workflow is simple, swift, and straightforward, consisting of only three steps. An aliquot is taken from a primary sample (nasopharyngeal, oropharyngeal, or nasal swab) in transport media and added to a sample preparation buffer that is optimized to prepare the viral RNA template without degradation. This is next combined with the RT-qPCR reaction mix, which provides reliable and sensitive results for RNA viruses in UTM. The sample then undergoes a routine real-time PCR in a cycler using any assay. The output is finally interpreted, delivering a test result in under one hour from start to finish—including incubation and hands-on time.

“QIAprep&amp makes the most of our expertise in both sample preparation and PCR,” says Thierry Bernard, chief executive officer of Qiagen. “PCR is the gold standard for detection of SARS-CoV-2 and other RNA viruses, and QIAprep&amp makes it faster—without compromising performance. The launch of this new product will complement our efforts to build the broadest portfolio of covid-19 testing solutions that addresses the varying needs for clinical and research applications in the fight against the pandemic.”

Qiagen has been adding PCR tests on the QIAstat-Dx and NeuMoDx systems that differentiate covid-19 from other respiratory infections, delivering research gene panels integrated with bioinformatics for analysis of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on any sequencer and scaling up production capacity for sample preparation kits and reagents sold to other companies for their own covid-19 tests. Qiagen is also developing novel easy-to-use solutions for antibody and antigen testing running on a portable device that provides highly accurate results in less than 15 minutes.

Qiagen’s QIAprep&amp Viral RNA UM Kit will be available for research applications in mid-October.

For an overview of Qiagen’s coronavirus testing solutions, visit Qiagen.

Featured image: QIAprep&amp Viral RNA UM Kit (courtesy Qiagen)