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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

RT-LAMP test could reduce time and cost of Covid-19 testing

Neill Fronde



PHOTO: The RT-LAMP test for Covid-19. (via MCOT)

A new style of Covid-19 test has been created in Thailand by a team at Chulalongkorn University and is said to be accurate, easy, and cheap. The 3-gene RT-LAMP method test was developed by the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Science, the Department of Chemistry, the Department of Microbiology, and the Innovation Hub of Chulalongkorn University.

The Covid-19 test works by detecting 3 key genes of the virus and covering its whole life cycle, a special RT-LAMP capability utilised by the team. The new method can be done quickly, with results being returning in as little as an hour due to using isothermal cycles instead of waiting for the slower thermal cycler method to detect thermal changes and identify the virus.

The method, Reverse-Transcription Loop-mediated isothermal AMPlification, was invented in 2000 and been used in developing tests for Hepatitis B and West Nile virus and has proven to be capable of detecting the Covid-19 virus as well.

Testing in the RT-LAMP method has shown it to be highly sensitive, returning very accurate results with little or no false positives. And it’s simple. A sample can be collected from saliva, the throat, the nasal cavity, or other sources with simple instruments and the test works with a pH indicator that creates a colour-changing result visible to the naked eye, so no complex machinery is required to interpret results.

The benefits of ease of administering and reading the test results make the RT-LAMP testing ideal for non-laboratory testing sites like airports, borders, or remote medical centres. Furthermore, the 3-gene RT-LAMP testing kit can be produced at 5 times cheaper costs than an RT-PCR test, allowing the possibility of using the Thai-developed kits to dramatically reduce the price of testing upon entry to Thailand, one major stumbling block to bringing back mass tourism within the country that so badly needs it.


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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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