The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted traditional diagnostic methods and highlighted the demand for decentralized Point of Care (POC) solutions. While nucleic acid testing is recognized as the most precise disease detection approach for a wide array of conditions, existing testing platforms are costly, limited to centralized laboratories, and unsuitable for low-resource environments. CRISPR-based diagnostics have emerged as promising tools with the potential to transform the field of molecular diagnostics. These platforms are cost-effective, straightforward, and do not necessitate specialized equipment, suggesting their capacity to decentralize access to disease diagnosis. However, there are several challenges associated with the current platforms when it comes to POC applications, including issues related to multiplexing.
First, I examine significant advancements in the field, with a particular focus on the obstacles posed by sample processing, stability, multiplexing, amplification-free detection, signal interpretation, and process automation. I also explore potential solutions for revolutionizing CRISPR-based diagnostics, aiming to create sample-to-answer diagnostic solutions suitable for POC and home use.
Second, I develop a vision for an ideal diagnostic test—a test that is user-friendly and goes from sample to answer in one step, demonstrating the capability of detecting multiple pathogens in one run. With this vision in mind, I attempt to create a LAMP-enabled CRISPR-based multiplexing platform capable of detecting three targets in a single-step reaction chemistry.
Ahmed Ghouneimy is an MS student at the Genome Engineering and Synthetic Biology Lab.