Qatar Hospital Advances Novel Testing Method for the Pandemic

Sidra Medicine, a hospital in Qatar that offers start-of-the-art facilities and a competent healthcare work force, has developed a new testing method for detecting the harmful coronavirus.

This method is a novelty since it offers a different method of extracting RNA, or ribonucleic acid. With the supply of testing kits slowing down, and the demand for more testing continuing to rise, this latest development will surely help ease the chain of burden.

coronavirus testing

Sidra Medicine Develops New Testing Method

How testing individuals works

The following is the three-step process for identifying if an individual has acquired the virus or not:

1. Take a sample from a nasal swab.

2. RNA extraction from the nasal swab sample

3. testing the extraction for presence of the harmful virus.

During the last step, or the testing phase, the most common method used is RT-PCR, or the reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction.

The biggest problem right now is in the second step. When there aren’t enough kits to extract RNA from nasal swab samples, the waiting times for getting the results becomes longer.

RNA can also naturally degrade when it isn’t extracted right away, which may cause false negatives. Patients who are falsely tested as negative when they are actually positive will then go back to communities, causing more infections.

New RNA extraction method

The new extraction method is spearheaded by the head of the molecular infections disease (MID) Lab Dr. Mohammad Rubayet Hasan, and Dr. Stephan Lorenz of the Clinical Genomics Lab (GCL).

The solution they invented matches the standards of current clinical methods of RNA extraction, but less reagents are requirement and can be done at a much faster time.

With this new approach, countries now have an alternative option to extract RNA, and not rely on the currently available testing kits that may face shortage in supplies soon.

How efficient this new test could be

According to the experts from Sidra Medicine, this alternative testing method can make as many as 1,600 or more extractions daily. The reagents used in this new test are much cheaper and cost-efficient than the commercially available ones. Also, you can help healthcare institutions who are struggling to supply the commercial reagents currently in need.

How to make this test successful

For this test to be successful, Sidra Medicine provides several guidelines for proper implementation. Like all medical laboratory testing that involves infectious disease, this testing procedure is complex, and requires a team of doctors, engineers, scientists and technologists to become successful.

Through this multidisciplinary collaboration, the testing will be efficient, accurate and reliable. The Sidra Medicine scientists and researchers also mentioned that this alternative method will only work if the healthcare organization has access to the needed reagents and the required laboratory setup.

Making the new testing available

So how is Sidra Medicine making this new testing technique available? It does so through publishing their protocol online, with an open access license which you can visit at the MedRxiv website. The study is entitled “High-throughput extraction of SARS-CoV-2 RNA from nasopharyngeal swabs using solid-phase reverse immobilization beads.

This new development by the scientists and experts from Sidra Medicine shows that Qatar’s efforts to improve the nation’s research community is bearing fruit. It also shows that the country is working really hard to do whatever it takes to stop the global health crisis.