Roche and its subsidiary TIB Molbiol have developed a COVID-19 PCR test for researchers that detects and differentiates the latest variant of concern, XBB.1.5.
The XBB.1.5 variant is prevalent in the United States and is quickly spreading to other countries.
Being able to differentiate emerging variants and understand their similarities and mutations provides a basis for experts to make predictions about their spread and respond with appropriate treatment strategies, the company says. The test, VirSNiP SARS-CoV-2 Spike F486P, is for use on the LightCycler 480 II and cobas z 480.
“Roche continues to develop timely diagnostic innovations related to COVID-19 by providing valuable insights – helping scientists and physicians understand this new strain, how it differs from other variants, and the impact it may have on public health,” says Matt Sause, CEO of Roche Diagnostics. “Since the start of this global health crisis, Roche has been committed to bringing effective diagnostic solutions to address unmet needs to healthcare communities worldwide.”
XBB.1.5 is a sub-variant of a SARS-CoV-2 variant named XBB. That lineage is a recombinant of two descendants of the BA.2 lineage that began spiking in early 2022. BA.2 is also a sub-variant of Omicron. XBB’s spike protein is a group of mutations that boost the variant’s ability to evade antibodies.1 All Roche on-market COVID-19 tests are not impacted by this sub-variant.
The research-use-only test, VirSNiP SARS-CoV-2 Spike F486P, adds to the suite of COVID-19 test kits developed by Roche and TIB Molbiol. Roche and TIB Molbiol’s researchers continue to work in collaboration with partners globally to screen for new variants and emerging diseases, the company’s say.
 Callaway, E. (2023) Coronavirus variant XBB.1.5 rises in the United States – is it a global threat?, Nature News. Nature Publishing Group. Available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-00014-3 (Accessed: January 10, 2023).