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Posted: April 16, 2020

Accuracy and Flexibility: Using Lateral flow in the rapid deployment of PCR and RPA

At present, owing to the new COVID-19 virus, the need to deploy novel diagnostics solutions in great numbers and quickly has never been so acute. Companies are mobilizing capabilities to ensure those in most need have access to testing solutions.

Everyone has now heard of PCR’s (Polymerase Chain Reaction) and their ability to copy and amplify specific nucleic acid sequences. This revolutionized molecular testing and led to PCR being the current ‘weapon of choice’ in the battle to defeat COVID-19.

While they are used in multiple applications such as forensic science, infectious disease and genetic testing they can be quite slow to turnaround. However, this approach can be expedited with the addition of a compact, easy-to-use lateral flow rapid test.

PCR is lab-based and there’s a need to use various equipment post-reaction to confirm the presence of nucleic acid; which adds costs and takes time to set-up and use. This can also be problematic when new or small labs with limited resources want to adopt PCR or deploy a new PCR test quickly. Especially with the COVID-19 outbreak, where the world desperately needs additional testing services and quick results turnaround in response to a novel disease.

One option is to use nucleic acid lateral flow assays (NALFIA), like PCRD or PCRD FLEX, as a rapid alternative to nucleic acid detection. These are easy-to-use devices that produce results in minutes without the need for specialist equipment.

One step further!

The creation of isothermal amplifications techniques like Recombinase Polymerase Amplification (RPA) has taken molecular testing a step further. Not only can reactions occur in multiple environments with limited resources, but reactions are typically quick. When combining RPA with portable NALFIA tests, the two rapid technologies become a powerful partner.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak took hold, more and more we are seeing interest in using isothermal amplification and NALFIA. The reason being is that by combining these technologies there is the opportunity to quickly deploy in-field or point-of-care (POCT) testing to multiple locations.

NALFIA: the norm

Health spend is increasing. For example, the UK’s NHS spending increased from 11% since 2010 to reach £124 Billion (Source: The Kings’s Fund). Add into the mix the increased pressures on primary care from growing populations in complex and fluid social structures.

Speeding up diagnostics and reducing the need for costly specialist equipment, that require skilled operatives, all contributes to aiding budget management. It also provides the means to identify a diagnosis quickly and the best possible outcome management.

Lateral flow NALFIA test being used with PCR and RPA

The benefits of NALFIA in times of outbreak are obvious but we can also identify many residual strengths that would apply in any scenario, these being;

  • Speed up your route to market
  • Negate specialist equipment costs
  • Reduce staff training as specialist equipment isn’t needed
  • Roll out to a wider audience with POCT and in-the-field testing
  • Enable automatic data collection with lateral flow reader like AppDx™

The reasons outlined above explain why we envisage NALFIA tests will continue to grow in popularity. In times like the current outbreak they could be a ‘gamechanger’ combining the accuracy of PCR with the flexibility and familiarity of lateral flow tests.

If you are working with Isothermal amplification methods or PCR and require a rapid nucleic acid detection method please contact us.

Download our NALFIA Brochure