Loop mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assays as a rapid diagnostic for COVID-19
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Recently, a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus disease 2019, COVID-19) has emerged, rapidly spreading and severely straining the capacity of the global health community. Many nations are employing combinations of containment and mitigation strategies, where early diagnosis of COVID-19 is vital in controlling illness progression and limiting viral spread within the population. Thus, rapid and accurate methods of early detection are vital to contain COVID-19 and prevent further spread and predicted subsequent infectious waves of viral recurrence in future. Immediately after its initial characterization, Chinese and American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCs) rapidly employed molecular assays for detection of COVID-19, mostly employing real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) methods. However, such methods require specific expensive items of equipment and highly trained analysts, requiring upwards of 4–8 h to process. These requirements coupled with associated financial pressures may prevent effective deployment of such diagnostic tests. Loop mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) is method of nucleic acid amplification which exhibits increased sensitivity and specificity are significantly rapid, and do not require expensive reagents or instruments, which aids in cost reduction for coronavirus detection. Studies have shown the successful application of LAMP assays in various forms to detect coronavirus RNA in patient samples, demonstrating that 1–10 copies of viral RNA template per reaction are sufficient for successful detection, ~100-fold more sensitive than conventional RT-PCR methods. Importantly, studies have also now demonstrated the effectiveness of LAMP methodology in the detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA at significantly low levels, particularly following numerous improvements to LAMP assay protocols. We hypothesise that recent advancements in enhanced LAMP protocols assay perhaps represent the best chance for a rapid and robust assay for field diagnosis of COVID-19, without the requirement of specialized equipment and highly trained professionals to interpret results. Herein, we present our arguments with a view to disseminate such findings, to assist the combat of this virus that is proving so devastating. We hope that this strategy could be applied rapidly, and confirmed for viability with clinical samples, before being rolled out for mass-diagnostic testing in these current times.
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