Highlights: Combined Use of the MiniPCR Thermocycler and a Well-Plate Reader As An Alternative COVID-19 Virus Detection

  • The research article was published on August 13, 2020.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has crudely showed the need for huge and rapid diagnostics.
  • More than 10 million positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported around the world on the early weeks of July 2020.
  • In the case of an epidemic emergency, the first line of response should be based on commercially available and validated resources.
  • This study demonstrate the use of the miniPCR.
  • MiniPCR is a commercial compact and portable polymerase chain reaction device recently available on the market.
  • Polymerase chain reaction or PCR is a fast and inexpensive technique used to amplify small segments of DNA.
  • The use of MiniPCR was combined with a commercial well-plate reader as a diagnostic system for detecting genetic material of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
  • The study used the miniPCR to detect and amplify COVID-19 viral DNA sequences using the sets of initiators recommended by the World Health Organization for targeting three different regions that encode for the N protein.
  • The nucleocapsid protein or N-protein is a structural protein that binds to the coronavirus RNA genome, thus creating a shell or capsid around the enclosed nucleic acid.
  • Before the amplification process, samples were combined with a DNA intercalating reagent.
  • DNA intercalators bind between adjacent base pairs of double stranded DNA and are often used as a fluorescent marker for DNA visualization.
  • Sample fluorescence after amplification was then read using a commercial 96-well plate reader.
  • This simple method allows the detection and amplification of COVID-19 viral nucleic acids.
  • The accuracy and simplicity of this diagnostics strategy may provide an inexpensive and reliable alternative for COVID-19 pandemic testing.
  • This simple diagnostic strategy may help underdeveloped regions where RT-QPCR instrument availability may be limited.
  • MiniPCR is portable, easy to use, and reproducible making it a reliable alternative for deployment in point-of-care COVID-19 virus detection efforts during pandemics.

Keywords: alternative detection, COVID-19 testing, alternative testing, PCR, miniPCR, simple diagnostic strategy, detect COVID-19 virus


González-González E, Trujillo-de Santiago G, Lara-Mayorga IM, Martínez-Chapa SO, Alvarez MM (2020) Portable and accurate diagnostics for COVID-19: Combined use of the miniPCR thermocycler and a well-plate reader for SARS-CoV-2 virus detection. PLoS ONE 15(8): e0237418. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0237418




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