Detection of Omicron variants in sewage samples

The recent pandemic has highlighted the importance of research in public health efforts to be focused on environmental surveillance. While RT-PCR based tests have become synonymous with the clinical diagnostics for the virus, next generation sequencing (NGS) has been the only fool-proof method in tracking emergent strains and their geographical spread. Several of the low and middle income countries including India struggled to do NGS at scale due to infrastructure and testing cost, turn around time and complex analysis, which led to inadequate tracking of the virus strains in the population.

A relatively lower cost and rapid assay that could screen potential Omicron variants, OmiCrisp, was developed at CrisprBits. The CRISPR based test for the surveillance of SARS-CoV2 can distinguish Omicron variants from previously seen non-omicron variants (eg. Wu, delta and others). The crux of the platform is our proprietary guide design that targets sequences altered in omicron variants. The platform was tested extensively over 100 clinical and 50 sewage samples. The platform is being extended to include common gastrointestinal pathogens (norovirus, rotavirus, Salmonella typhi and drug resistant E.coli) and is currently under prospective validation.

CrisprBits received a grant from the GiveIndia foundation (CryptoRelief) that was set up during the pandemic to assist in coping with India’s crisis during the pandemic.

OmiCrisp logo

The proprietary assay design of Omicrisp and its applications in both individual clinical samples and those from mixed samples like sewage has been filed for a patent.

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